BCC backtracks on farm repossession

THE Bulawayo City Council (BCC) has rescinded its earlier decision to repossess its farm from Umguza Black Empowerment Mining Company after the latter threatened to sue for breach of contract.

RICHARD MUPONDE/ GAMMA MUDARIKIRI

BCC had on January 2 this year, resolved to reclaim its Farm 2A Willsgrove from the mining firm and allocate it to Happiness Sibanda.
It is alleged the local authority’s decision to recover the farm from the company was informed by reports that it was linked to the Central Intelligence Organisation (CIO).

But the firm denied any links with the CIO and threatened to sue BCC for breach of contract.

The issue had threatened to divide council, with some councillors supporting the withdrawal of the company’s mining grant.

A council report shown to NewsDay reads: “It was accordingly resolved to recommend that council revises and rescinds its previous decision (Council 2 January, 2013) relating to this matter in order to avoid unnecessary litigation. That at this stage, Happiness Sibanda be not granted a special grant within Farm 2A Willsgrove, for reasons detailed in the report above.”

In a protest letter to the council, the mining firm said: “The city fathers entertained unsubstantiated allegations that we were colluding or abusing links with the President’s Office and also that we are not mining in the area lawfully. To start with, we are lawful miner and duly registered with the Mining Commissioner’s Office and secondly, a lawful ratepayer with the City of Bulawayo where we are paying royalties/rent of $517 for the interests in Farm 2A.

“For the record, the syndicate is only composed of Siziba and Malunga and the city fathers should have checked their records on Willgrove Mining Syndicate (composed of Todd Sibanda, Simms Ncube, former Police Officer Commanding Bulawayo Law and Order Section Superintendent Andrew Mupungu, Evans Mnethwa, Ozwell Dlamini, Morris Dlamini, Maxwell Mupungu and Mahlangu, and Jajule Mining syndicate (composed of late Vice-President Joseph Msika’s nephew Zowa Msika and Sam Tshabalala) to check on who is working with members of the President’s Office.”

Meanwhile, BCC has temporarily suspended most projects funded by the Zimbabwe Road Agency (Zinara), following failure by the road authority last year to disburse funds to finance the projects.
A recent council report showed that the local authority only disbursed $1,2 million out of the $3 million allocated for the city’s roads.

The local authority said the money was channelled towards routine and periodic maintenance including pothole patching while $1,7 million of the $2 million sourced from the Finance ministry was used for equipment hire and purchase of material and fuel.
“Council sent a request for extra funds with the $450 000 acquittal. No disbursement was done and therefore most activities funded by Zinara were therefore put on hold,” reads part of recent council minutes.

The local authority claimed that 70% of its roads were in a bad state.

Zinara last week indicated that it will soon announce this year’s disbursement of the road fund.

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