Time to pay up

CHITUNGWIZA - Chtungwiza Municipality has ordered owners of stands obtained cheaply through Zanu (PF)s patronage system to pay thousands of dollars for the land or risk losing it.

Town Clerk Godfrey Tanyanyiwa wrote to beneficiaries in one of the major new housing schemes, Nyatsime, ordering them to pay up to US$4 000 by end of May for the stands they initially bought for as little as US$100. Most of the stands were bought at the height of the 2008 election campaign.

The scandal has already led to the suspension of the entire Chitungwiza Council by the Movement for Democratic Change (MDC), which sponsored the councillors. The suspensions have been criticised by Local Government Minister Ignatius Chombo who, along with other senior Zanu (PF) officials and relatives were accused to be the major beneficiaries of the stands scam.

Chombo is also linked to a land grab scam in Harare according to a recent report released by the city council. He and Harares business tycoon, Phillip Chiyangwa, have since been reported to the police for fraud. Police said they were investigating.

Tanyanyiwa said the money will go towards servicing of the stands and construction of access roads and bridges among other things. Sources told The Zimbabwean that the local authority has been under pressure from the Ministry of Finance, headed by MDC Secretary-General and anti-corruption crusader Tendai Biti to justify why it needs state funds for development.

Biti has made it clear that local authorities that are corrupt will not benefit from the Public Sector Investment Programme.

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