THE controversy surrounding the recent eviction of scores of Chitungwiza South residents by Zanu PF legislator Christopher Chigumba took a new twist over the weekend with the latter saying he had documents to prove that he genuinely owned the properties in question.
The evicted families were part of the 300 members of the Zanoremba Housing Co-operative whose houses are being claimed by Chigumba as his.
Chigumba told the Zimbabwe Broadcasting Corporation on Saturday that the 300 houses at the centre of controversy were acquired fraudulently by the Zanoremba Housing Co-operative after having been built under his own housing scheme.
He said the families were evicted for failing to pay $8 000 and not the $5 000 subscription for development paid in $30 installments — to the scheme.
Chigumba claimed that he was the founder of the housing scheme to which he invited people to join, adding that the affected families were allegedly duped by a co-operative member named Kalisto Masango to establish a parallel co-operative.
“The certificates are fraudulent and the court papers give Chigumba Holdings as the property developer. I was advised that I cannot operate as a co-operative as I was funding the project and invited members of the community and various co-operatives to come and join. It’s the allocated homeowners who are evicting them,” Chigumba.
Zanoremba Housing Co-operative was formed in 2004 and the residents claim they invited Chigumba, who was their legislator, to become their patron.
The Chitungwiza land audit established that the affected home seekers were paying $5 to the bogus co-operative which was said to have been registered in 2010 and re-registered in 2012, but had its certificate rendered invalid because it had used the same registration number.
The latest development follows reports by Zanu PF spokesperson Rugare Gumbo that the party had tasked Local Government minister Ignatius Chombo to provide it with a comprehensive report on the matter.
Chombo last year appointed a team to investigate illegal land deals in and around Chitungwiza and Seke areas after it was discovered that thousands of home-seekers were being sold undesignated land and open spaces not suitable for houses.
The probe team discovered that over 14 000 householders had built their structures on unserviced land, while 8 200 houses built on illegal land were set to be demolished.
Both Chigumba and Masango could not be reached for comment yesterday.