ZANU PF Chitungwiza Ward 25 councillor Frederick Mabamba said he is not a land baron as most of the land he controls does not personally belong to him, but to a housing co-operative which he registered 20 years ago.
Mabamba told NewsDay in an interview yesterday on the sidelines of a Mayor’s Christmas Cheer Fund function Chitungwiza that the housing cooperative, United we stand multi-purpose housing co-operative — legally acquired the land from Chitungwiza Municipality.
He disputed allegations that he was using his links with top officials in the Local Government ministry to acquire huge tracts of land.
Operating five schools in the sprawling town, Mabamba said he hopes to construct a university — People’s University in Africa for Sustainable Development — at Chitungiwza Town Centre next year on a piece of land he as once again procedurally acquired.
“The only properties I have are my house, one branch of Fredrick Mabamba High School, and the other four school branches, one in Seke Unit O, Makoni, Zengeza 3 and 4 are on rented premises,” Mabamba said.
“All the land people are talking about does not belong to me, but to the housing co-operative. Those stands should never be attributed to me as an individual. It is the property of the co-operative.
“People are having a field day with false information. Because they don’t come to ask, they believe what they say is true. Even if you go check with council records today, you will realise that I did not fraudulently acquire the land.” Mabamba is the chairman of the co-operative which he claimed has benefited over 4 000 families to date.
He said the co-operative no longer has land in Chitungwiza, but has been offered 300 stands by the Harare Municipality which it intends to develop once it is shown the piece of land.
Mabamba added: “I am not linked to Minister Chombo (Ignatius — Local Government minister) in anyway. The first time I came into contact with him was between 1999 and 2003 when I was deputy mayor of Chitungwiza. We never met and I only hope to meet him now after I was elected to be a councillor,”
Chitungwiza mayor Phillip Mutoti said he was waiting for a report on the land probe being carried out by the Local Government ministry. He said he feared carrying out an investigation in the past shoddy land deals as it would cost him and some councillors their jobs if the investigations suck in ministry officials.
“We cannot do anything. We have to take orders from the ministry, which says it is at an advanced stage to investigate the land deals. Our course of action as council will be influenced by the report,” Mutoti said.
Several MDC-T mayors and councillors have been fired by Chombo, in a move they say is aimed at crippling the party and disable them from probing some deals that involved the minster.
But Chombo has maintained he fired them for gross misconduct.
“We are afraid of losing our jobs. It is politics of the stomach. We cannot do anything than taking orders from the ministry,” Matodi said.