Former city director in court for abuse of office
Yeukai Karengezeka-Court Correspondent
FORMER Harare City Council valuer and estates manager Emmanuel Mutambirwa appeared in court over the weekend for allegedly facilitating the sale of a wetland to a Chinese company without following the correct procedure.
The complainant is the State represented by Hosiah Abraham Chisango, the Town Clerk for City of Harare.
The State alleged that between 2017 and 2019, Mutambirwa’s duties included advertising the intention of leasing or the sale of land to see if there were public objections in compliance with Section 152 of the Urban Council’s Act as read with City of Harare standard operating procedures for city valuation and estate management.
These require that when an application for lease or sale is received by head of valuation and estates management, recommendations are made to the finance director who then sends a report to council to obtain a council resolution.
Thereafter, the city valuer advertises the proposed lease or sale for public objections and addresses the objections, if any, before inviting the client to make payments.
On May 18, 2019, Vifot Investments (Private) Limited, a Chinese-owned company, applied for land for recreational development on stand 40072 Borrowdale West, measuring 23,9684 hectares in the midst of the wetland behind Dandaro.
After receiving the application, Mutambirwa recommended to Stanley Ndemera, the then acting finance director, to sell the land to Vifot Investment.
Instead of seeking a council resolution, Mutambirwa instructed Mr Ndemera to proceed with the process of selling the stand to Vifot Investments who paid $91 679 130.
The court also heard that periodically, then acting mayor Stewart Mutizwa would also directly engage some officials instructing them to expeditiously process the land deal, which then was concluded without adhering to the requirements of the Urban Councial Act and without a council resolution.
The matter came to light when stakeholders and the Borrowdale community raised alarm when they discovered deep trenching and massive excavation in the core of the wetland and they reported the issue to Zimbabwe Anti-Corruption Commission.
Investigations by ZACC then led to the Mutambirwa’s arrest.