Prophet Emmanuel Makandiwa’s United Family International Church (UFIC) is at the centre of a land scandal in Chitungwiza, where a special probe team appointed by Local Government minister Ignatius Chombo is investigating the local authority over illegal parcelling out of stands.
NewsDay is reliably informed the probe team has compiled a special report showing how Makandiwa’s church acquired vast tracts of council land without following laid-down procedures.
The special committee, which is part of a resuscitation team led by Fungai Mbetsa, has also compiled reports on other controversial projects in Nyatsime, Chitungwiza Town Centre and Zengeza 4 markets, among others.
Council officials, some of whom have been arrested and are presently on bail, are accused of allocating stands in a corrupt and chaotic manner, resulting in residential stands being doled out on land meant for construction of schools, roads and crèches.
Mbetsa, who is the acting town clerk of Chitungwiza, yesterday confirmed his team was in possession of the special report on the UFIC stands in the town, adding the matter would be dealt with at a special council meeting on Monday.
“There is a special report on issues to do with UFIC stands and it will be tabled in the next committee meeting, probably next week. I have seen the report, but I can’t comment on it before it’s discussed in council,” Mbetsa told NewsDay.
UFIC spokesperson Pastor Prime Kufa said the church was aware of the probe and was waiting for the report. But he was adamant that the church acquired the land procedurally.
“We are waiting for the report so that we understand what happened. As far as we are concerned, we bought the land from
council. We went through the process and we acquired the land,” said Kufa.
A report seen by NewsDay shows that the special committee has investigated land scams that took place in Chitungwiza between 2006 and 2009.
Part of the 31-page report leaked to the Press reads: “Due to the depth and expansiveness of the matters involved, the investigation also produced the following focused reports:
Nyatsime Land Development Project, UFIC stands at Town Centre, Town Centre Stands, Zengeza 4 Market, Chikwanha, Stands 19 770-19 772 and a list of commercial and industrial stands allocated during 2006-2009.”
Sources said Makandiwa’s church bought a 185 000-square-metre stand for $150 000 where construction was recently stopped to allow for the investigations.
It is alleged the probe team discovered that besides the stand where construction was underway, the church had received two stands for free from a senior council official.
The sources said UFIC officials recently offered to surrender the two stands and keep the one they paid for.
But Kufa denied the allegations, saying construction work was stopped after the contractors went to Muzarabani where they are building Chief Kasekete Changara’s house.
Sources said next week’s special council meeting would be attended by officials from public works, housing and general purpose committees
Recently, Zengeza East MP Alexio Musundire filed an urgent High Court application seeking to block Makandiwa’s construction project, arguing the land had been acquired unprocedurally.
The High Court, however, ruled the matter was not urgent.