MASVINGO — Harare businessman-cum-rhumba crooner Energy Mutodi’s massive housing project in Masvingo faces collapse after the owner of the land which had been earmarked for the project recently reclaimed it back accusing the musician of breaching terms of the agreement.
Report by Tatenda Chitagu
The landowner, Charles Banga, whose farm Mutodi’s National Housing Development Trust had intended to develop and allocate stands to close to 2 000 home seekers, told NewsDay yesterday that he had repossessed the land after Mutodi failed to honour his side of the bargain.
“We did not sell our farm to Mutodi. He approached us looking for land, but he had no readily available cash. We told him to develop a certain piece of land in exchange for a number of stands over a two-year period, but it lapsed without fruition. So he handed over the project to us since we have the land,” Banga said.
The housing project was meant to benefit civil servants based in rural areas.
Banga said he would deal with paid-up members and refer those not paid up to Mutodi since the musician was the one getting the monthly instalments from the home seekers through his housing trust.
The home seekers, who have reportedly been paying $100 monthly instalments for the stands since 2009, yesterday expressed fear that they could have been duped of their money. With each individual having paid an estimated $5 000, the money owed to the homeseekers could be well over $10 million.
Mutodi confirmed the development yesterday, saying he would work out modalities to ensure that those who could not be accommodated by Banga would get stands somewhere else in Masvingo.
“We have handed over the project to the landowner. It is true we had some problems, but we will look for land for those members who fail to be accommodated by the landowner,” Mutodi said yesterday.
Banga also briefed members of the housing project about the latest development.
“It is neither my fault nor theirs, but I just want to help so that we have a smooth transition. I am not forcing anyone. Those who are interested may come aboard, and those who do not like that will have to stay behind with Mutodi whom they entered an agreement with.
“He has a housing trust, not the land. We did not sell land to him. It is time for us to take over. He will concentrate on his housing trust and we have taken our land and we want to develop it with the people,” Banga said.
In Harare, Mutodi is facing a fraud charge involving more than $6 million after allegedly fleecing unsuspecting home seekers through his trust, while in Mutare, he is accused of defrauding desperate home seekers of close to $2 million in a similar scam. He is currently out of custody on $2 000 bail after spending nearly a month in remand prison.