A social media message on the sale of residential stands purported to be from the Nkayi Rural Development Initiative (NRDI) has left the Rural District Council divided.
Councillors and council workers are accusing the Acting Chief Executive officer Lawrence Mudimba and other council officials of clandestinely selling out residential stands to home seekers without following proper council procedures.
NRDI through the message to villagers revealed that there were two sizes of stands at the district’s growth point measuring 2100 square metres and 2800 square metres.
Concerned Councillors say as office bearers they were not aware of the stands that are being allegedly parcelled, but they got to know about the matter through a leaked communication by NRDI official Ken Ndlovu who was informing people in the district that stands were on sale.
The Councillors allege there is a lot of corruption in the council besides the land scandal adding that proper procedures are not being followed before the stands are sold.
“Mudimba and his friends are selling stands illegally and allegedly get kickbacks from those who want to get stands urgently. Stakeholders, Councillors and council employees don’t know that the stands are already on sale because we have never had such a resolution during our full council meeting. We intend to report these corrupt activities to the Zimbabwe Anti-Corruption Commission soon,” says one Councillor, speaking off the record.
“You need to expose this issue as Nkayi is burning because of Mudimba and others. They are selling these stands secretly. The Council has been turned into a kangaroo playhouse with Mudimba parcelling stands to his friends without a council resolution.”
A leaked message from Ndlovu reads:
“Stands available, two sizes are 2100 m2 and 2800 m2 at 1.67 a square metre. The NRDC accepts cash or 50% deposit, then agrees payment terms with the RDC. We urge all of you Nkayians to act swiftly and buy the stands before they’re taken by people from outside the district. You need to send your relatives a copy of your ID to fill the forms and pay US$25 for you to be on the list.”
The Councillors say Ndlovu’s controversial advert has spilled the beans and lifted a lid on what has been happening behind closed doors in a far as the sale of the council land is concerned. Council staff, authorities allege, remain in the dark about the purported sale of stands.
“It was a surprise that people outside the council already have information about the stands being sold when we councillors do not know,” says another Councillor who requested not to be named because he is not authorized to speak to the press.
According to the local authority’s policies, when stands are to be sold, council staff must be informed together with Councillors before they are advertised.
“The procedure is that council staff be informed together with Councillors, then stands are advertised. This is the procedure but Mudimba and his accomplices are not following these procedures which make his action highly criminal,” says the Councillor.
The Councillors believe Ndlovu started circulating the message about stands after a fall out with Mudimba on some spoils they were supposed to share after the sale of the stands.
Contacted for comment Nkayi Rural District Council (NRDC) Acting CEO Mudimba dismissed the allegations as untrue saying the stands are not yet out though there is a feasibility study being carried out to identify and peg housing land for sale.
Mudimba says he saw the message from NRDI circulating that stands were available adding that it has created conflict in the council.
“At the moment we are not selling stands. There was a message from NRDI which was circulating that we are selling stands here. It is not true. At the moment we are in the process of pegging the site for the new stands and after that the records will be sent to the ministry. We are not yet in a position to tell how many stands will be there until we are told by the department of physical planning,” Mudimba adds.
“We cannot advertise the stands unless the whole process is complete. The problem is that these people just circulated the message and we do not know where they got that information from. I have been looking for them to hear where they got that from, never know; maybe I am saying I am in charge when someone has taken over. That message has created problems between us and Councillors who think that we are doing underhand deals.”
NRDC Chairperson Jameson Mnethwa has also dismissed the message as a lie saying villagers panicked after seeing department of physical planning officials moving around the place surveying the land and concluded that stands were up for grabs.
“It’s a lie. People saw officials from physical planning moving around the area surveying the land and started spreading that stands were up for sale,” Mnethwa says.
NRDI official Ken Ndlovu who posted the message however stands by the message he sent.
“I wouldn’t send that information if I didn’t verify with people at Nkayi first. You’re in Zimbabwe; you’ve to follow up by calling Nkayi to check if it’s real and how to get a stand. I only wrote information I was given by the Councillor and some of our members who went to the offices. Are the stands still there? I don’t know, I don’t work there. I can’t do more than I’ve done.”
Mudimba fell out with most of the Councillors following the retrenchment of former CEO Zimbabwe Ndlovu whom he (Mudimba) and others accused of maladministration and abuse of resources.
Some Councillors were against the move which saw Ndlovu being retrenched on January 8. Since then the Councillors have written several petitions accusing Mudimba of double standards in which they allege he facilitated the removal of Ndlovu so he could take over as CEO.
However, Mudimba says based on the accusations over stands he is working flat out to see to it that the process is regularised to clear himself and the council on the alleged corrupt activities.
“We are pushing so that these stands are officially out and to clear the air on the allegations being levelled. Once all is done and completed may be all this noise will end,” he says.
Davison Moyo, a villager says there is stinking corruption in the stands allocation though a lot of investigations need to be further done to get to the root of the matter.
“Where there is a smoke it’s certain that there is a fire. There is a lot of corruption involved in the selling of stands here in Nkayi. I know there is one Sikhethile Moyo, a community member who got a stand through such clandestine means. More needs to be unearthed to stop this rot,” he says.
Sikhethile Moyo, who is alleged to have benefited from the stands scandal declined to comment demanding to know who gave the reporter her contact.
“I don’t know what you are talking about, I don’t work at council. In the first place, who gave you my number, that is the first thing I want to know before we talk,” Sikhethile said angrily before disconnecting the call.
Davison says the illicit advertisement of stands has triggered interest from South Africa based locals who visit the council to look for housing land to buy.
Note: Davison Moyo and Sikhethile Moyo are not related. First names have been used to identify them to avoid confusion.
Source: The Citizen Bulletin