Residents in Mutare are challenging the local authority to carry out a land audit amid allegations that city fathers are clandestinely parceling out land, particularly residential and commercial stands, to their cronies.
The Mutare Residents and Ratepayers Association, the Combined Mutare Residents and Ratepayers Trust and the United Mutare Residents and Ratepayers Association are speaking with one voice on the need for an urgent audit of the city’s land. The associations say they have information that land is being parceled out on the cheap by councilors hence their call.
David Mukunda of the Combined Mutare Residents and Ratepayers Trust said residents know that prime commercial land is being disposed of by city officials in unclear circumstances to friends and colleagues without following proper procedures.
He said most of the city’s land has been sold out without advertising as is required by the law.
David Mutambirwa of the Mutare Residents and Ratepayers Association concurs with Mukunda. He adds the local authority’s books should also be audited. The council’s last audit was last done five years ago.
Mutare Mayor Tatenda Nhamarare told VOA that his council is not against a fresh land audit, adding another one was done a couple of years ago. He, however, says there currently are no funds for the audit.
The mayor said residents and their associations should communicate with his office directly instead of rushing to the media with their grievances.
Last year the local authority hinted it would soon apply for more land from the government to expand the city. The local authority is eyeing some land in Odzi, which is a bit further from the mountainous city.
Meanwhile, in other news from the eastern border city, Mutare Magistrate Noah Gwatidzo is on February 20 expected to deliver his ruling in a case in which MDC-T senior official and former National Housing and Social Amenities Minister Giles Mtsekwa and his bodyguards Kingstone and Raphael Mutandi are facing an assault charge.
The state is alleging that Mtsekwa incited the Mutandi brothers to "deal with" councilor Crispen Dube, who was on a campaign team of rival MDC-T candidate Arnold Tsunga during just before the July 2013 harmonized elections for the Dangamvura/Chikanga constituency.
Dube was allegedly assaulted by the two as tensions in the MDC-T rose in the run-up to the polls. He sustained a swollen face and five loose teeth, among other injuries during the attack.
Tsunga and Mtsekwa were political rivals in the elections. They both were on the ballot paper for the MDC-T. Tsunga won the poll, taking over the constituency from Mtsekwa who had represented the area since 2000
The three are pleading not guilty to the assault charge. The fourth accused Tatenda Nhamarare was acquitted last week for lack of evidence.