Battle rages over control of housing co-ops

A fierce battle is brewing among four groups of people claiming ownership of 118 stands at the Tazvida and Tiriparwendo housing cooperatives in Glen View 1, Harare.

Joshua Pedzisai addressing members of Tazvida and Tiriparwendo housing cooperatives at Glen View 1 Old Farm-House last weekend
Joshua Pedzisai addressing members of Tazvida and Tiriparwendo housing cooperatives at Glen View 1 Old Farm-House last weekend

The tug-of-war for control started after in 2012 when some founding members and the former chairpersons of Tiriparwendo (Abisha Maurano) and Tazvida (Loveness Mahlepu) allegedly refused to step down.

Instead the duo went on to form breakaway groups with new members. The cooperatives were formerly one – Tasvika housing cooperative – but were divided into two sister groups following council’s directive that co-ops should not have more than 100 members each. Tazvida retained 69 and Tiriparwendo 49 members.

The duo accuses the new management, led by Joshua Pedzisai and Brian Kugotsi chairing Tazvida and Tiriparwendo respectively, of stealing trust funds when they were secretary and treasurer between 2009 and 2011.

“We established through an audit that Pedzisai and Kugotsi diverted $18,000 and $210 respectively from the trusts – but they were acquitted in court. We have removed them from our membership register since they are not contributing a cent,” said Maurano.

The Ministry of Small and Medium Enterprises has been trying to get the groups to meet for some time, Eventually Maurano and Mahlepu conducted their 2012 AGM at Zim Cafe in April 2013 with the ministry absent and only a council official, one Gumbo, blessing the occasion.

“Mr Gumbo told the meeting that the function of council was only to observe the AGM but it is up to the ministry to endorse it. Let me tell you that CABS has started building pump stations so pull up your stockings,” read part of the minutes of the AGM.

The two co-ops are part of a consortium of 36 called Common Vision Housing Consortium, which has been allocated 1,300 stands on plan TPX 1349/1 in Budiriro 4 by the city council last year. The developer is currently laying down sewer and water pipes. Of the 1,300 stands Tiriparendo got 29 and Tazvida 41, with the balance still to be allocated.

Battle two

In January this year Maurano and Mahlepu representing their splinter groups dragged Kugotsi and Pedzisai to the High Court over ownership and misappropriation of funds. Both cases were dismissed.

Pedzisai who is also Common Vision board’s programme coordinator said Maurano and Mahlepu were not contributing any money towards development of the stands. “We know they are collecting monies from their group but we do not know where they are putting it. The ministry said they are going to cancel the certificates that Maurano and Mahlepu have and give us new ones to avoid confusion,” he said.

Maurano said his group was legitimate and accused the ministry of taking sides. “We invited the ministry to our AGM but chose not to attend after we had paid a lot of monies to hire the venue. Oscar Nyamunokora is abusing his office and supporting the faction led by thieves who abused cooperatives funds.

We are the legitimate group and we are contributing towards development of the stands and I have the receipts to prove,” claimed Maurano.

Nyamunokora said the ministry’s position was clear and recognises Pedzisai and Kugotsi’s leadership.

“Maurano has accused everybody of being corrupt; the police, the ministry, the Kingdom Bank which they bank with. When we called for meetings he would abscond. He even forged the ministry’s stamp on his new membership list, which differs with the original one we have here,” he said.

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