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Chiyangwa divides Harare council

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Divisions have emerged at Harare’s Town House over how to proceed with investigations into the land saga involving property magnate and businessman Phillip Chiyangwa.
This latest turn comes amid reports that councillors had developed cold feet over the investigations, apparently initiated to pacify Local Government minister Ignatius Chombo who is Chiyangwa’s co-accused in the so-called land scam.
The councillors are said to have been found guilty of attempting to evict tenants from council houses which they wanted to occupy.
They have allegedly met minister Chombo secretly to apologise so that they are not stripped of their seats.
Sources close to the Chiyangwa investigations and the outcome of the councillors’ eviction probe said it was for that reason that the councillors were now reluctant to investigate Chiyangwa as doing so would be tantamount to investigating the minister from whom they were asking for forgiveness and clemency over their own scandal.
“On the Chiyangwa issue you will find that out of the nine councillors who compiled the 54-page incriminating report, only three have remained vocal on the matter while the rest have chickened out,” said the source.
Another source confirmed the division and said it was now a case of “scratch my back and I will scratch yours”. As a result, the investigations into the alleged massive land scam had lost steam.
“That is why some councillors are pushing for (Emmanuel) Chiroto’s ouster as deputy mayor,” said the source.
“We really wanted to pursue the case but we feel other councillors who made up the team that investigated the case have now developed cold feet,” he said.
Chiroto is said to have led the team of councillors that went to apologise to Chombo. Councillors that want him removed as deputy mayor include those that insist the Chiyangwa and Chombo investigations should be taken to their logical conclusion.
“I do not know what these councillors are up to and what got into them, but for now we are not doing anything to follow up the issue (Chiyangwa investigations) because of the divisions,” our source said.
The “apologising group” is reportedly fighting from Chiroto’s corner and have distanced themselves from the land scam investigations, calling for the probe to be abandoned altogether.
A report on the findings by the committee investigating the councillors over the illegal and fraudulent evictions was completed early this month and is said to be in Chombo’s hands.
If found guilty, the councillors could lose their jobs.
Police officers involved in the Chiyangwa investigations also
confirmed that pressure from council had all but disappeared.
“There is confusion in council over this case,” a police officer said. “It is now difficult for us to pursue the matter because some of the councillors that are key to the investigations are no longer forthcoming with information and have actually shown disinterest in the whole issue.”
Four months ago, a special Harare City Council meeting adopted a report exposing alleged illicit land deals involving Chiyangwa and Chombo not following proper procedures.
The report which covered the period between October 2004 and December 2009 claimed that irregular land acquisitions, mainly by prominent Zanu PF officials, were rampant.
It recommended that Chiyangwa be arrested for allegedly using underhand means to acquire land, some of it in the plush Borrowdale suburb.
Mayor Muchadeyi Masunda, however, differed with some councillors over the way forward. Masunda argued that the report could not be immediately implemented as it had massive loopholes, among them failure to give accused people the right to reply.
Sources said each time the chairperson of the committee, Warship Dumba, has called for a meeting to assess progress on the investigations, just a handful of councillors have attended.
Chiyangwa reported the committee to the police, accusing them of criminally defaming him. The councillors were hauled before the courts and their case is due to be heard on September 23. They are on $20 bail each.
Journalists from Alpha Media Holdings’ Standard newspaper were also cited in the defamation case for publishing contents of the committee’s report.
They are supposed to appear in court as state witnesses — expected to say who leaked the damning report to them.
Meanwhile, the councillors that are said to have apologised to Chombo have come under fire from their colleagues who accuse them of literally pleading guilty for attempting to fraudulently seize houses from tenants, thereby admitting council was corrupt and raises fear whether Chiyangwa had a case to answer in the first place or there was a hidden agenda.

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