A storm is brewing between Bulawayo City Council (BCC) and Umguza Rural District Council (RDC) after BCC acceded to an application by Mehluli Khumalo Land Developers for “voluntary incorporation” of Mbundane high-density suburb into the city.
Mbundane, built in 2005 with a capacity of about 2 000 stands, is located in Lower Rangemore and falls under Umguza Rural District Council though it is within the Bulawayo master plan approved by the Ministry of Local Government, Rural and Urban Development in 2004.
So far the area has about 600 households but disagreements between the developer and the RDC have resulted in the suburb going for the past five years without water and the residents in the area rely on one borehole for water.
The disagreements led to the developer going to apply to BCC seeking voluntary incorporation.
The BCC approved the application and recommended that Mehluli Khumalo Land Developers apply for incorporation to the Local Government Rural and Urban Development minister Ignatius Chombo.
However, Umguza RDC on the other hand has vowed to block the move which it has described as technically impossible.
In their application for incorporation Mehluli Khumalo Land Developers said the Bulawayo master plan had already been approved by the ministry.
They said one of the requirements in the master plan was the resolution of compensation of land before incorporation.
“We believe this requirement is no longer necessary as a subdivision permit was issued and the land belongs to the developer,” read part of the application quoted in the council latest report.
“We have undertaken the process of servicing the area in consultation with the Bulawayo director of engineering services who approved all our engineering drawings.
“All the pipes for reticulated water and sewer systems have been laid for the first phase of our development, comprising 600 residential stands. Mbundane residents currently rely on a single borehole for water.”
In its response, council noted that the development of Mbundane Township was in fulfilment of the master plan hence the properties form part of the urban structure.
The local authority said the township was in Rangemore area which was earmarked for incorporation.
“The city had already applied to the minister for the incorporation of the whole of the Rangemore area. Therefore, the application for voluntary incorporation was a duplication. However, the application was supported as it might be used to demonstrate the need for the incorporation of the Rangemore area into the city,” read the council report.
“The chamber secretary advised that there was need to expedite the incorporation issue and further delays might result in council paying more in compensation.”
However, Umguza RDC chief executive officer Collen Moyo said the move was not possible.
“It won’t work. I am calling the permanent secretary and telling him what is happening because it is not feasible. I thought the town clerk (Middleton Nyoni) was dealing in good faith and cooperating,” he said
Moyo said the land developers were not a land authority and hence could not apply for the incorporation.
“He is not a land authority. He had the land but it ceased being his when he sold stands to the home seekers. The owners of those 600 houses in the area are now in possession of title deeds to those properties. Technically the land developer does not have the property anymore,” he said.
“By applying for incorporation he is trying to say he owns a town as a land developer, which is not possible. The BCC wants the suburb and is now using back-door tactics and misleading the developer.”
Moyo said it was not possible for BCC to compensate the land developer but the agreement had to be made between the two local authorities.