Council unearths abuse of rental property, market stalls

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Harare City Council has uncovered rampant abuse of council rental properties and market stalls in the capital and the mayor, Muchadeyi Masunda, says heads will roll.

Masunda who made the revelation at a full council meeting last week said it was crucial that council presses ahead with investigations even when resistance to the probe was growing in intensity by the day.

“There are serious irregularities in the allocation of markets and council houses.

” Investigations have just confirmed that most of the people that are in our records as tenants were not the people in physical occupation of the council houses and market stalls,” the mayor said.

Of particular concern, he said, were the irregularities recently uncovered at Mupedzanhamo, Machipisa and Mbare markets.

Councillor Peter Moyo had earlier said that the recent eviction of illegal tenants from council houses which the state media had sought to politicise, was a noble council decision that had to be defended.

“Council must make a bold statement,” said Moyo.

“We must not be intimidated by those who fear to be exposed. Let us defend council decisions.”

The statement by Masunda came in the wake of resistance by illegal occupants of council houses in Glen Norah and Highfield.

It had also emerged, in the latest council investigations, that most market stalls at Mupedzanhamo flea market in Mbare and the main vegetable market in the same suburb, were now literally owned by Zanu PF officials and supporters most of whom were sub-letting them.

Even powerful politicians, including a cabinet minister, is said to be the legal occupier of vegetable stalls although it is common cause that the minister never sets foot in the usually messy and crowded market place.

The minister is said to be leasing out the stalls and making obscene profits from poor vegetable sellers.

They are said to be paying only $65 to the city council a month but subletting them for as much as $500 or $1 000.

Last year, council police clashed with Zanu PF youths at Mupedzanhamo market when council sought to close the market for an audit of ownership.

An elderly woman died in the clashes.