THE government, through the Local Government ministry, has taken over Meikles Park in Mutare and reportedly plans to lease it out to a private company after settling for a land swap involving more than 100 hectares of land with the local authority.
Documents shown to NewsDay have revealed that government has acquired the land and plans to lease it to Stallvic Enterprises (Private) Limited, for construction of a hotel.
On April 23 2014, the acting secretary for Local Government, Public Works and National Housing, only identified as Shawatu RA, wrote to Mutare town clerk Obert Muzawazi, confirming the deal. Part of the letter, referenced Transfer of Meikles Park confirmed that the local authority would receive 100 hectares of land for the city’s expansion as compensation.
“Could you please urgently transfer the land commonly known as Meikles Park to the Government of Zimbabwe as per our agreement?” read the letter.
“On the other hand, we would like to advise you that once the 100 hectares you chose from stand 1965 Mutare has been demarcated and title surveyed, the land will be transferred to council by the ministry,” added the letter.
Efforts to establish the directorship of Stallvic Enterprises were fruitless as council officials were not forthcoming with details.
Meikles Park, a prime piece of land located in the city’s central business district, has been the centre of controversy in Mutare and at one point a deal was nearly reached between a Chinese company and the city before residents and some city fathers raised objections saying the park should not be privatised.
The Meikles Park issue also led to a fallout between former Mutare former mayor Brian James and and council management after the former objected to the land swap deal.
James was subsequently dismissed by Local Government minister Ignatius Chombo in 2012.
Currently, some portions of the park are being used as a square and a flea market.