THE GWERU City Council (GCC) has lost over $10 million in shady land deals at a time the cash-strapped local authority is struggling on the service delivery front.
BY STEPHEN CHADENGA
In the past 10 years, the council reportedly lost large swathes of land that were disposed of without following due process as the city has not fully automated its operations to curb corruption.
A 2019 land audit which was commissioned by government revealed that from 2009 to 2019, Gweru disposed of residential, commercial, institutional and industrial stands with an estimated value of $21 million.
However, the council only received half the value of the land as a result of dodgy deals by corrupt council officials.
“The expected value of all the stands disposed of during the period from 2009 to date of audit (2019) was over $21 889 823,” the report read.
“To date, council has realised over $11 811 848 for the stands disposed and had an outstanding land balance of around $10 077 974 due, and payable by the beneficiaries. The use of the manual record system which was not in order and the Promun system was not reliable as stands sold on cash basis were not captured in the system.”
The audit revealed that during the period, the local authority created over 7 206 stands for disposal with 158 stands not accounted for.
The Gweru Residents Association said the report was not publicised despite that the stands which were parcelled out were on open spaces, recreational sites and golf courses.
“About 15 commercial stands were created on the Gymkhana (Gweru Sports Ground) recreational site without following change of reservation procedures, thus depriving residents of recreational facilities,” the report said.
The stands were said to have been surveyed, yet there were no layout plans.
In another case, three stands 9290 to 9292, measuring 2 500, and 5 000 and 4 000 square metres respectively were said to have been created on an open space without change of reservation approval.
At heavy industrial sites, Zambezi had three infill stands (9240, 9043 and 9242) created on stand number 6034 of Gwelo Township lands measuring 11 783 hectares on an unapproved layout plan as there was no evidence of layout approvals by the Local Government minister.
Furthermore, three stand numbers (9 236 to 9 238) were unprocedurally created on a servitude along Gweru-Bulawayo Road.
The dossier also revealed that five institutional stand numbers (9110, 9108, 9109, 9241 and 9108E) were illegally developed on an open space with an unapproved layout plan.
Mayor Josiah Makombe said the Local Government ministry submitted the report to council this year, adding that disciplinary action had since been instituted against officials implicated in the audit.
“We have since suspended employees implicated in the audit to institute disciplinary measures against them,” Makombe said. He said the document would be made public.