Byo residents petition over mayor’s US$2 land deal

Bulawayo City Council (BCC)

THE Bulawayo Progressive Residents Association (BPRA) has written to town clerk Christopher Dube requesting that he reverses a controversial $165 per month land deal involving mayor Solomon Mguni.


Mguni attracted controversy last week following revelations that council had allocated him a 2,5 hectare plot situated in Lower Rangemore for urban farming purposes for a paltry $165 per month for 25 years.

The figure is equivalent to US$2 on the parallel market.

In an objection letter to Dube, the BPRA demanded that the town clerk reverses the land deal, arguing it was a betrayal of public trust.

“This act is a subset of injustice and a violation of the obligations of fairness for private gain and a betrayal of public trust,” BPRA co-ordinator Emmanuel Ndlovu wrote to the town clerk in a letter dated June 19, 2020.

“It is the submission of BPRA that the mayor used his privileged access to information to make an application for the said property which initially belonged to one P Phakathi, who was later dispossessed of the stand by BCC after failing to develop it. The mayor, being privy to this information, then used his influence to get the committee on allocation of stands and premises for development to grant him the land for a song.”

But Dube yesterday shot back, accusing BPRA of misdirecting its objections.

“It does not work that way, and that is why we advertised in the Press. Everyone who has issues must respond or lodge their objections in terms of that advert, not to me, but to the director of housing and community services … they must follow procedures,” Dube said yesterday.

Mguni last week told Southern Eye that he found no reason why he should be faulted as he was a mere beneficiary.

The BPRA co-ordinator said it did not make sense for the financially-troubled council to be leasing its land for a song when it could be using the same to “create new revenue streams for the benefit of the city …”

“The land cannot just go into the hands of the mayor at no value in return, moreso, for a period of 25 years. It is the view of BPRA that this amounts to a corrupt transaction and an ‘illegitimate purchase’ that encourages clientelism, patronage and capture.”

Bulawayo city fathers are no strangers to controversial land deals.

In 2016, exiled former Local Government minister Saviour Kasikuwere was forced to step in and suspend then deputy mayor Gift Banda and other councillors over corrupt land deals.

Like Mguni, records show that Banda bought vast tracts of land at Ascot Race Course for a song during his tenure while the serving councillors also acquired vast properties, some on lease, including car park spaces, shops, toilets and farms.