By Tanyaradzwa Chiwara
Over a million United States dollars have been over three years gobbled from a Budiriro-based housing consortium account (Stars Consortium) by a clique of rogue land barons.
The barons were misrepresenting as members of the president’s office (Office of the President and Cabinet) operating under the banner of Zimbabwe’s supreme leader ( Emmerson Mnangagwa Housing Co-operative) whilst allocation of residential stands amongst supposed beneficiaries remains a pie in the sky, as the monumental sunshine city employees simultaneously loot from an entrusted home-seekers consortium account.
While narrating their ordeal on the modus operandi used by the land barons, a group of victims to the scam led by chairperson of the consortium, Zivanai Machingauta claimed all necessary paperwork has been done with the blessings of the membership’s consent on the payment made to the city fathers’ offices following stipulated council by-laws and procedures, however, other members of the consortium secretly engaged with influential members from the city council (in consultation with relevant city departments) and create parallel structures against the will of consortium members thereby changing all documents and procedures making engaging in unapproved cash withdrawal and transfers.
Machingauta said, “We are worried about their actions against the will of the supposed beneficiaries whose monies are withdrawn without them being procedurally consulted and there is gross mistrust on their adherence to transparency and accountability.
“Beneficiaries from various co-operatives who constitute Stars Consortium have since time immemorial been contributing huge sums of money into the account and every payment or transfer was effected after consultation from Consortium leadership, but however it is a disgrace to note that some members purporting to be members from the President’s Office withdraw misappropriate monies from the account and formed a housing co-operative under the president’s name (Emmerson Mnangagwa housing co-operative).
“The purported members from the president’s office working in ca-hoots with members from the city council altered and misrepresent to the council thereby creating a new database of beneficiaries, recruiting members from the city council ( Mrs Chiratidzo Dzama who is the current Budiriro district officer, Munyaradzi Bhowa, Edgar Dzehonye, Kashangura Faith, Mrs Charumbira, among others) whilst the other members from the Mnangagwa co-operative (Earnest Machingauta, Duri and others) constantly withdraw money for both personal enrichment and operating parallel structures and accounts, leaving the major consortium account bleeding.
“We paid everything to the city council and follow the prerequisites towards acquiring residential stands for the consortium which include the environmental impact assessment (EIA) certification, land surveying, pegging, registering with physical planning department, land intrinsic value payment, interviews with the council and issued with offer letters after thereafter.
“As a result of fear for reprimand or reappraisal since they purport to hail from higher office, we did not confront these land barons since they proved to be powerful and untouchable.
They are now illegally allocating members who did not even go through council interviews and double allocate new members from a fictitious database, causing chaos and disorder amongst those that exist in council database through duplication and replication, formulating a parallel Agribank forex account where other unsuspecting home-seekers while deserting the major consortium account for possible insolvency,” Machingauta fumed.
When called to respond to the allegations, the land barons initially confirmed they represent Emmerson Mnangagwa housing co-operative, but remain mum on whether they are member from Office of the President with the mandate to oversee operations of the consortium.
Earnest Machingauta and one Duri said, “Yes we confirm existence and being leadership of the said housing co-operative, but everything we are doing is above the board and in consultation with our members, including council officials and it is quite sad to note that when the Highglen round about was constructed, it alters the original plan and everything hence we engage the responsible authorities on the alterations to which our plea has been effected,
“The alterations did not affect many residential stands as purported by our detractors, but rather we compensate those that have been affected by the roundabout development and meanwhile we are accounting and responsible for compensation to be done on all affected stands.
“The alleged misappropriation is just a creation, we are doing everything above board though we are not certain on how much we have so far invested in that project and the amount they are claiming our housing co-operative fleeced is too much,” the land barons rhetorically bragged.
It has become a norm that several land barons name their housing co-operatives after influential names from Zanu Pf’s powerful leadership to instill fear amongst intended audits, accountability and to evade investigations on account of corruption and efforts to get a comment from council officials fingered in the scam were fruitless as their mobile phones were switched off.