MARONDERA Municipality and Cleopas Kundiona, proprietor of UMAA University in Marondera, have ended their two-year land row, paving way for the construction of the province’s first and privately-owned university.
Report by Jairos Saunyama
Marondera mayor Farai Nyandoro confirmed the development yesterday, adding the local authority had given Kundiona the green light to proceed with the project on a 65hectare piece of land located near the provincial police headquarters.
The project stalled two years ago after the MDC-T-dominated council questioned how Kundiona had acquired the land at the height of the country’s economic meltdown in 2008 from the then Zanu-PF-dominated local authority.
“The storm over the UMAA University was resolved and we recently came to terms. The council was not against him, but we wanted transparency over the land, that is, how he acquired the land and when he was going to develop the area,” Nyandoro said.
“Council policies regarding allocation of land were grossly violated. The policy that stipulated that no applicant should be allocated another land before fully developing any other acquired earlier was not put into consideration. For example, in the UMAA University stand issue, the beneficiary was allocated the land and later applied for several extensions without developing the land.
“So we wanted him to develop the area before he acquired other tracts of land. We are happy construction has begun,” Nyandoro said. Kundiona was optimistic that the private university whose source of funding he declined to disclose should be operational in five years’ time.
“It has been a tough time, but all is settled. The new council had no knowledge of how it happened when I got the land to construct a university. I am even happy that construction has begun and by December 2014, phase 1 of the project will be completed,” said Kundiona.
“Currently 30 theatre classrooms and an underground library are under construction and by next month we will be going for the hostels. With the current resources we have, we are expecting to complete the whole project in five years’ time,” he said.
When NewsDay visited the site yesterday, construction was underway for the institution that will be the first ever university in Mashonaland East Province.
Kundiona also runs several academic colleges and companies in Harare and Marondera.