Zimra struggles to build HQ

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THE Bulawayo City Council has instituted processes to repossess land it sold to the Zimbabwe Revenue Authority (Zimra) after the latter’s failure to construct a regional office complex and warehouse over the last decade.

by NQOBILE BHEBHE

The stand measures 7 799m² and had accumulated rates amounting to $1 635,84 as at March 31 2014.

Housing and community services director Isaiah Magugula reported to the sub-committee on allocation of stands and premises for development that council allocated Zimra land on July 3 2002 and the tax collectors signed an agreement of sale on January 22 2003.

He said construction on the stand in terms of the agreement of sale was to commence within six months and completed within 24 months from the date of sale, but 11 years later, no development had taken place on the stand.

Magagula said the site was at a prime area of the city and attracted numerous applications over the years. A letter of non-compliance was written to Zimra in 2011 and the tax collector cited lack of finance to develop the stand.

“As previously indicated in my letter of November 9 2011, the potential financiers we had identified failed to proceed with funding of this project because of the economic challenges bedevilling this country,” Zimra appealed to council.

“These challenges have derailed all our plans and we are still in the process of sourcing for funds with other potential investors. In view of the foregoing, I request that we be allowed to retain this stand while we continue looking for funds from possible financiers.”

However, the council’s engineering services, health services and finance departments said they had no objections to the repossession “as long as due protocol was followed and advised that the applicant’s account had accumulated rates amounting to $1 635, 84 as at March 31 2014”.

According to the report, council further dispatched another letter advising Zimra to provide a time frame as to when they would commence construction “failure to which they might consider surrendering the stand back to council. Zimra responded confirming its ‘desire and interest to retain the above stated stand’.

“Please note that we are still in the process of looking for funds and other possible financiers after the initial financiers we had identified failed to proceed with the project due to funding challengers caused by the economic challenges the country is facing,” Zimra stated.

“We are in the process of sourcing for funds with other potential investors and the deals are being aborted at the last minute due to the same challengers of liquidity in the economy.”

Zimra further requested a “sympathetic ear” so that they could be given a grace period to seek for funds with other potential financiers.

But the housing and community services departments ruled that there was no commitment as to when development would take place.

“As such, consideration could be given to other prospective developers through a tender given the prime location of the site if council were to take the stand away.”

Council finally granted Zimra a lifeline.