CHIREDZI residents have given a five-day ultimatum to Chiredzi Town and Rural District Councils to furnish them with all details including documents signed between the two local authorities and land developer Full Life Open Arms Africa Investments Pvt (Ltd) which was controversially contracted to develop 750 hectares valued at US$155 million for the expansion of Chiredzi Town at the behest of Local Government minister July Moyo. (pictured)
The development came as the Parliament of Zimbabwe announced it had accepted a petition from Chiredzi residents, who want Moyo investigated over abuse of office and corruption allegations.
The Deputy Speaker of Parliament Tsitsi Gezi on Thursday told legislators that the petition was deemed permissible, meaning parliament is likely to investigate the allegations.
The letter was sent to Speaker of Parliament Jacob Mudenda in parliament in November last year, but was gathering dust, until The NewsHawks’ front page story on the scandal last week.
“I have to inform the House that on Friday, 10th February 2023, Parliament received a petition from the Chiredzi Residents and Rate Payers Association requesting Parliament to exercise its oversight functions by investigating the corrupt practices of land barons on 750 hectares of land allocated to Chiredzi Town and Chiredzi Rural Council,” she said.
“The petition was deemed admissible and the petitioners were informed accordingly.”
According to a petition presented to Parliament and signed by four members of Chiredzi Residents and Ratepayers Association (CHRRA), Full Life Open Arms Africa Investments (FLOAAI) was handpicked by Moyo without following public procurement procedures.
The petition further said the developer is a land baron who is set to prejudice the two Chiredzi local authorities of a substantial amount of money since he is now selling unserviced stands without paying a cent to the local councils.
Residents also say they were not consulted when the land was grabbed. They also complained that an environmental impact assessment was also not carried out.
In a letter dated 10 February 2023 seen by The NewsHawks and served to both local authorities this Tuesday, Chiredzi Residents and Ratepayers Association (CHRRA) through their lawyers Chadyiwa and Associates demanded to be furnished with information regarding the deal entered between the local authorities as a joint venture and FLOAAI including processes leading to the appointment of FLOAAI as a developer for the land in Chiredzi.
The attorneys threatened to approach the High Court if the information is not released within five days. The developer is selling unserviced stands at US$20,61 per square metre.
“Your council together with Chiredzi Rural District Council was given 750ha of land by government which land is supposed to be developed and serviced into stands. A company called FLOAAI has been appointed as the developer. The said company has commenced selling stands to members of the public although the stands have not been serviced and there is no subdivision permit making such actions illegal,” the lawyers wrote.
“Our clients being major stakeholders are seeking information on the project and they have instructed us to request the information including property description of the 750h and the process which led to the appointment of the developer.
“May we therefore have a response within five days of your receipt of this letter. Should you fail to avail the requested information within the timeframe given, we will approach the High Court to compel you to release the information in terms of the Administrative Justice Act (Chapter 20:28) reads part of the letter.
Meanwhile Chiredzi West Member of Parliament Farai Musikavanhu told The NewsHawks he had approached Moyo twice petitioning him to stop illegal land deals in Chiredzi, to no avail.
The legislator said he knows his colleagues in Zanu PF will accuse him of being a sellout for exposing corruption in Chiredzi, but said corruption is a cancer which is affecting the popularity of the ruling party.
Musikavanhu, who is a former Agriculture Director at Tongaat Hulett Zimbabwe said he approached Moyo two times asking him to take action against illegal land deals within Chiredzi Town Council including the 750hectares given to FLOAAI.
“I have consciously decided to publicly speak out in support of our president’s stance against corruption. In my position as a Zanu PF MP and central committee member knowing fully well that some in my party will accuse me of washing our dirty linen in public. l will not eat poison because of being shy. I will always speak out against corruption,” he said.
“The land baron cancer started in Chiredzi town way back with Zanu PF councillors working together with opposition councilors contracting land barons like what we are seeing happening with 750ha at Buffalo Range meant for the expansion of our town. I approached the minister two times and l remember l once received a letter from Mangwana and Partners law chambers asking me to stop interfering with council business but mine is an oversight role where l can raise a red flag if possible.”
Moyo could not be reached for comment.