EMBATTLED former Bulawayo Deputy Mayor, Mr Tinashe Kambarami is set to lose an industrial stand barely two weeks after councillors endorsed a resolution awarding it to a company he co-owns with his wife.
Last week, it was reported that councillors had approved an industrial stand purchase by Grade One Private Limited, a company which investigations revealed is co-owned by Mr Kambarami and his wife, Rosemary.
However, it has since emerged that the stand had been identified and awarded in an area which has since been identified as a wetland. According to an internal memorandum from the Bulawayo City Council’s Acting Director of Town Planning, Mr Wisdom Siziba, a site visit to the stand was done last Monday where it was discovered the stand was located in an ecologically sensitive area. The site visit revealed that close to three months after the end of this year’s rainy season, the stand was still water logged.
“Stand number 19822BT Westondale appears to be within an area that was identified as an ecologically sensitive zone, since a site visit on 14 June 2021 revealed that the stand is still water logged due to heavy rains that were experienced in the last rainy season. We therefore recommend that the stand be cancelled and that it should not be allocated,” reads the memorandum.
In March a taskforce comprising BCC, the Environmental Management Agency (EMA) and Agritex was tasked with identifying ecologically sensitive areas in the city and map out strategies to deal with development in such areas.
The former ward three councillor had intended to use the stand for the establishment of a food manufacturing-milling company. Some of the conditions that had been given to the Kambaramis for the purchase of the stand included that they would pay a selling price of US$11 300 excluding 14,5 percent Value Added Tax or Zimbabwe dollar equivalent subject to the foreign currency exchange auction rate.
Councillors who spoke to this publication, regarding the purported purchase have accused council management of smuggling the item into the council agenda, as it had been removed from the council agenda on three previous occasions.
“We were shocked when we saw in the media that the stand belongs to the former Deputy Mayor, further investigations revealed that this very item had been removed from the council agenda three times. What our officials are failing to realise is that when such issues are brought to council all key information must be included because right now it seems Mr Kambarami used his influence and privilege as a former councillor to get that stand, which can easily attract the wrath of the Zimbabwe Anti-Corruption Commission,” said one of the councillors.
The allocation of the stand itself was drama-filled as Mr Kambarami had attempted to bulldoze a full council meeting despite his recalling claiming he was still the substantive Deputy Mayor. The Supreme Court had reinstated him last month but the ruling was of “no effect as he was recalled by his parent party, the MDC-T”, council officials said.
The former Deputy Mayor had to be ejected from the chambers by security, with the Mayor, Councillor Solomon Mguni labelling him an intruder. Contacted for comment, Mr Kambarami said while he has not been informed of the official council position on the stand allocation, he was not going to be surprised if it was reversed accusing councillors of using the local authority as a weapon to fight their political battles. He said it was not the first time that the local authority had changed goalposts after he had been allocated a stand.
“It is honestly surprising and laughable if true because under normal circumstances before such a stand is allocated, council officials go to the ground to certify it and in this case the Director of Engineering Services (Engineer Simela Dube) actually said his department had no objection to the allocation. Now for them to then claim the area is waterlogged is a clear sign that one is trying to use council to fight me because of our political differences. This is not the first time, I was once allocated a stand and at the last minute the price of the stand was changed to US$32 000, these people should stop weaponising council to fight me,” he said.
Mr Kambarami further noted that as a ratepayer in the city he expected to be given equal treatment like any other resident.
“I wouldn’t want it to seem like someone is doing me a favour when I make such applications, because that would be corruption. I am ratepayer in the city who just wants to invest and help revive the city’s industries, that is how I expect to be treated,” he said.
Meanwhile, commenting on attempts by Mr Kambarami to be reinstated as ward three councillor and Deputy Mayor, Minister of Local Government and Public Works, Cde July Moyo said the law was clear on the matter and the former Deputy Mayor should seek legal recourse if he felt unfairly treated.
“The law is clear on this, even Bulawayo Mayor, Clr Mguni is a practicing lawyer and he knows this, Mr Kambarami also knows the process which took place,” said Minister Moyo.