Zimbabwe: Widen Blitz On Land Barons, Corruption in Municipalities

14 January 2021

Swedish born moral philosopher Sissela Bok once said people often understate the harm of lying and deceit by only analysing it from the perspective of the liar.

Bok says lies must also be considered from the perspective of the deceived, because lies give power to the liar and take away power from the person being lied to.

She notes several points relevant to Zimbabwe's current situation, where local authorities have over the years been paying lip-service and feeding ratepayers with lies on what they can do in service provision, while running down the cities.

It is the same lies that have destroyed the once glorious cities of Zimbabwe because of corruption and deceit by authorities mandated to run the municipalities.

It is sad, regrettable and very unfortunate that local authorities such as Chitungwiza and Harare have developed an alarming propensity to lie and rip off the same ratepayers that they allocated land amid revelations that MDC-led Chitungwiza is set to demolish 11 000 properties built on unsuitable land.

Only naïve observers and ratepayers believe that the Chitungwiza council will indeed demolish the said houses. The threat that council officials have been regurgitating over the years is nothing more than a mere smokescreen to hoodwink and divert people's attention from serious allegations of corruption being levelled against the MDC-led municipality.

The announcement is indeed a lie and will not happen, unless the Government rids itself of the corrupt MDC-led councillors and senior managers who have destroyed what is left of this once beautiful satellite city by carrying out forensic audit to establish who parcelled out the very same stands that Chitungwiza council now wants to demolish.

Those in the know will attest that the Nyatsime housing scheme which constitutes the majority of the houses that council wants to demolish did not just mushroom overnight, but has grown over the years with the blessing of Chitungwiza Municipality.

From mere vast tracts of partly arable land and pockets of bushy areas, the once huge sprawling farm has over the years become home to thousands of home seekers under the very same watchful eye of the municipality that is now calling for its demolition.

Most of the buildings and properties in Nyatsime were built with the blessings of council officials who even supervised their construction.

It is the very same council employees, town planners, engineers and councillors who superintended the very same project they want the public to believe that the more than 7 000 houses and other commercial properties were improperly built and should be razed to the ground.

Such deceit is very disturbing and clearly exposes the calibre of the MDC-led leadership of this satellite town.

It is in times like these when the Government has to come to the rescue of the affected home owners and ratepayers by fishing out the malcontents within the municipalities of Chitungwiza, Harare and other cities that have caused untold suffering to thousands of desperate home seekers across the country who were allowed to settle willy-nilly on unsuitable land, and now face demolitions of their properties.

The very same residents whose houses are up for demolitions are in possession of offer letters which bear an official stamp from Chitungwiza Town Council.

If the offer letters are fake, as council officials would want the nation to believe, it is the municipalities duty to exercise due diligence by calling in the police to investigate.

For all in the know, the call for demolitions could be for strategic or political expedience to save face for MDC-led councils that have been hogging the headlines for corruption.

One can argue that the threat by Chitungwiza Municipality is strategically positioning itself to avoid impending investigations of the municipality called by President Mnangagwa who has called for a forensic audit into land in Harare after several council officials were arrested on allegations of parcelling out land illegally.

The leaked memo is indeed a mere smokescreen and an attempt to distance the said council official currently in court from possible further investigations after the Ministry of Local Government and Public Works last week urged local authorities to desist from reinstating individuals with pending criminal cases as they risk interfering with witnesses.

According to the ministry, they remain suspended until they have been cleared of charges being levelled against them.

In a statement, the ministry's secretary, Mr Zvinechimwe Churu said the Government had noted with concern that several councillors and senior management of local authorities across Zimbabwe have appeared before the courts facing corruption and land mismanagement allegations.

Late last year, Local Government and Public Works Minister July Moyo expressed similar concerns, condemning moves by local authorities to reinstate senior management and councillors, saying such moves were tantamount to undermining the courts.

Should they be genuine, the demolition threats are uncalled for and sadist to say the least, considering that they are being made at a time when the ordinary Zimbabwean is battling with the trauma and consequences of the effects of Covid-19, currently ravaging the whole world.

What is equally disturbing is the deafening silence of MDC-A president Nelson Chamisa, who has often claimed to be the face of democracy and an agitator for a corrupt-free nation.

Despite making noise about corruption over the years, Chamisa has been acquitting himself very badly on such issues and is yet to make a public pronouncement condemning allegations of corruption being levelled against his disciples in both Harare and Chitungwiza.

In October last year, Chamisa appointed lawyer Thabani Mpofu to probe corruption in the 28 urban local authorities dominated by councillors from his party.

Over a year later, the nation is yet to hear from both Mpofu and Chamisa what became of the probe.

The nation awaits to hear how Chamisa is going to save the 11 000 houses from demolition.

There can never be a better time than now for Government to commiserate with the suffering of the affected home seekers by stamping out such kind of heinous, criminal and sadist actions by the very same people that were given the mandate to rule the country's urban areas.

The same land audit that President Mnangagwa ordered following the arrest of senior council officials on allegations of parcelling out land for their own personal aggrandisement should be extended to Chitungwiza City Council as a matter of urgency.

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