THE Municipality of Gwanda (MOG) is in the eye of a storm after it irregularly parceled out land originally designated for key public infrastructure despite written objections from residents who have now resolved to take legal action against the MDC Alliance-led local authority.
The municipality announced its intention to sell commercial stands at specified locations two months ago.
The Gwanda United Residents’ Association (Gura) then submitted objections with signatures of its members highlighting that the land which council intended to sell such as that in ward 5 Spitzkop area was long meant for the construction of a stadium.
Gura argued also it was again against the interest of residents to parcel out commercial stands at other areas reserved for the construction of recreational facilities that could reduce drug uptake mostly by unemployed youths.
In the letter of objection dated 26 April 2023 addressed to Gwanda town clerk Priscillah Nkala, Gura chairperson Colleta Moyo highlighted that the intended sale of stands was designed in a way that favoured land barons while potentially excluding residents of the sprouting provincial capital.
“The terms of purchase are likely to benefit a few land barons and the flighting of the advert was surely meant to catch people by surprise as there was no window for people to raise enough money to purchase save for barons.
The terms definitely do not promote the purchase of these stands by locals.
“MOG deliberately continues to disregard stakeholders in issues that really matter. This continued disregard would encourage residents to eventually protest and not pay rates,” warned the residents. The residents complained about targeted exclusion by the municipality.
“Gura is an association of Gwanda residents and as such all communications to MOG need to be responded to, as these assist to keep residents who are key stakeholders abreast with happenings in their residential town,” the letter read.
“Information or adverts on this sale of stands could have been placed on council notice boards around town if council really cared about disseminating the information to its major stakeholder, the resident,” reads the letter.”
However, against the objections, the council, dominated by councillors from the Douglas Mwonzora-led MDC-Alliance, parcelled out the land. In an interview with The NewsHawks, Moyo this week said Gwanda residents are contemplating suing council.
“It was improper for council to sell the land after objections by residents. We are now under instructions from the residents to take court action against sale of the land and we have advised the council. They were not supposed to sell land meant for important projects like a stadium at this time, where we want to take away youths from drugs through providing them with recreation facilities,” he said.
Contacted for comment, Gwanda mayor Njabulo Siziba said the parcelling out of the land in question was above board and blamed the residents’ association leaders of misleading locals.
“The residents’ union gave people wrong information about sale of the land because they did not know the council’s town planning matrix. The money from sale of the land was deposited in the estates account and so it will not be used for any useless thing but shall strictly go towards capital projects. The residents’ union does not know how council operates,” he said.
Siziba also said the municipality would engage the residents so that they “understand” that selling the land was a good decision.