Chikwinya rebuffs audit report allegations

Nyasha Chikwinya

Former Cabinet minister Ms Nyasha Chikwinya has denied allegations of underhand dealings involving the acquisition of vast tracks of State land and sale of residential stands in Harare.

She said she owns a piece of land measuring more than 84 hectares of Hatcliffe North.

Ms Chikwinya is among the 132 people including political heavyweights, implicated for allegedly selling State land, corruptly allocating themselves stands, fraud, abuse of cooperative funds and criminal abuse of office.

The Commission of Inquiry was led by Justice Tendai Uchena.

Many other people stand accused of selling cooperative stands without authority from the Registrar of Cooperatives, malicious damage to property, as well as subdividing land reserved for recreational activities and schools.

Ms Chikwinya is accused of illegally selling State land without developing it under Pilgrims Rest Developers at Hatcliffe North Farm.

In a bid to clear her name, the former minister told The Herald yesterday that she was allocated the State land by the Ministry of Local Government, Public Works and National Housing, under Dr Ignatius Chombo.

“The land was allocated to me as compensation for land that was occupied by Mama Mafuyana Cooperative at my Pilgrims Rest Farm,” said Ms Chikwinya.

Ms Chikwinya said the new dispensation confirmed the land as hers and requested her to pay over $2 million, through a payment plan.

The Ministry of Local Government and Public Works has since written to Ms Chikwinya’s company, Pilgrims Rest Properties, asking them to make a payment plan in a letter dated February 26, 2018.

A letter signed by a Local Government ministry official, Mr F. Chitambo, seen by The Herald says the land is valued at $2 142 240.

“Could you please, therefore, come to the Ministry’s State Land Offices . . . so that we can discuss the payment plan for the land you were offered for residential development.

“We encourage you to come with a copy of suggested payment plan so that we can agree on the way forward. This should be done not later than 30 March, 2020.

“Please note that failure to come and discuss and later pay for the stands will result in legal proceedings being instituted against you and/ or including repossession of the land,” read the letter in part.

She produced evidence of court judgments from the Supreme Court and High Court confirming she was the rightful owner of the land in question.

“I then effected the change of use at the behest of the Local Government ministry which advised me that the land could not be used for agriculture given that it was peri-urban. I changed it to residential area and got a permit to peg stands, design roads, water and sewer reticulation.”

Other high-profile figures recommended for investigation in the Harare land audit report include former First Lady Grace Mugabe, Dr Chombo, ex-Local Government permanent secretary Engineer George Mlilo, businessman Dr Philip Chiyangwa, former Harare South legislator Mr Shadreck Mashayamombe and Caps United co-owner Mr Nhamo Tutisani.

The bulk of the other people on the list are leaders of housing cooperatives set up by political heavyweights.

Zimbabwe Anti-Corruption Commission (ZACC) chairperson Justice Loice Matanda-Moyo confirmed receipt of a copy of the audit report, saying investigations would commence soon. – Herald