ZIMBABWE – Local Government, Rural and Urban Development Minister Ignatius Chombo’s name has been dragged in the case in which politician Justice Zvandasara and two others are being charged with US$4 million fraud.
Zvandasara, Tichaona Suruware and Blessing Sigareta are accused of grabbing 84 000 hectares of land belonging to ZanuPF Central Committee member Nyasha Chikwinya in Hatcliffe.
They allocated the land to unsuspecting home seekers under their housing cooperative. The trio represented by Mr Tapson Dzvetero of Antonio and Dzvetero Legal Practitioners yesterday appeared before Harare Magistrate Mr Themba Kuwanda who remanded the matter to October 5 for continuation of trial.
Testifying for the State yesterday, Harare North ZanuPF distirict chairman CMisheck Mangwende told the court that Zvandasara used Minister Chombo’s name to be in charge of the cooperative. He said after convincing the members, Zvandasara started parceling out stands to them.
“He told us that Minister Chombo was the one with the final say on the issue of stands and we believed him since in the party we don’t question or doubt authority. “We believed what Zvandasara had said,” he said.
Mangwende said Zvandasara lied that the stands belonged to the cooperatives and not the land developers. Asked by the defence lawyer why his statement was contrary to that in the affidavit filed at the High Court in the battle against ZanuPF Central Committee member Nyasha Chikwinya, Mangwende said he believed Zvandasara had the documents with Minister Chombo’s authority.
“I wrote that affidavit because I believed that my colleague had the documents which he claimed to have.
“It was only later that I realised they documents did not exist,” he said. Up to 820 witnesses are lined up to testify in the case.
According to the State, Zvandasara of Plot 7 Weston Glen Forest is the president of an unregistered Harare North Housing Cooperative Union.
Cde Chikwinya is the director of Pilgrims Rest Properties, which specialises in property development.
The State alleges that during the land redistribution exercise, Cde Chikwinya was allocated Pilgrims Rest Farm measuring 150 hectares.
But Government redemarcated the land into two and the other half was allocated to Mama Mafuyana Housing Cooperative.
Alternative land for Chikwinya’s company was also identified at Hatcliffe North Phase two. Chikwinya obtained a development permit number SL818 from the Department of Physical Planning.
On June 21 last year, Cde Chikwinya and the Ministry of Local Government, Rural and Urban Development signed a Memorandum of Agreement allocating the land and transferring administration into her name.
She started servicing the land, subdividing it into low, medium and highdensity stands under layout plan number HOE27.
Dr Sasha Jogi prepared the layout, allocated stands and sold them to clients. Zvandasara, Suruware and Sigareta who knew about the project, allegedly misrepresented to unsuspecting home seekers that they had lawfully acquired the same piece of land.
It is the State’s case that the three sold 496 stands to home seekers who immediately occupied the land.
Cde Chikwinya on that count suffered financial prejudice to the tune of US$2,7 million.
In the second count, the complainant is the chairman of Alpha Developers, Mr Jonathan Gapare, who is said to be also in the business of developing properties.
Mr Gapare applied to Government for a piece of land adjacent to that of Cde Chikwinya for land development by his company Alpha Developers. Using the same modus operandi, Zvandasara sold 324 stands prejudicing Mr Gapare of US$1 555 000.