Residents in Mutare have welcomed the decision by Mutare City Council not to sell Meikles Park to Anjin, a Chinese firm mining diamonds in Chiadzwa.
The Chinese firm wanted to buy Meikles Park, a prime piece of land in the central business district, where they intended to build an 18-storey hotel which would house a supermarket and other shops.
Local Government minister Ignatius Chombo had ordered Mutare City Council to give the land to Anjin in exchange for State land the council would obtain from the government.
Residents who spoke to NewsDay applauded Mutare mayor Brian James and councillors for taking a bold decision to stop the arrangement.
Former City of Mutare Ward 11 councillor and Mutare businessman Edwin Maupa said Chombo should stop interfering with councils in the country.
“Chombo can’t continue doing whatever he wants with councils that were elected by the people. Giving that land to the Chinese was tantamount to empowering the Chinese at the expense of the indigenous businesspeople,” fumed Maupa.
Victor Munemo, another Mutare businessman who runs a clothing shop in town, said giving the land to the Chinese would have set a bad example among city councils across the country.
“I applaud our city councillors for remaining steadfast on matters of principle. This would have set a bad precedent amongst councils across the country. I hope council will manage to sell the land to prospective investors at the right amount,” said Munemo. However, not everyone was against the Chinese investment.
“This land has been lying idle ever since I was born and if an investor comes intending to develop it council should give it to them. It’s not like they (Chinese) were going to get the land for free. There was an exchange with State land which council in turn was going to make use of by selling it as residential stands and getting revenue,” said another resident, Mellissa Mukoyi.