By Staff Reporter
THE City of Bulawayo has made a proposal to lease 3,5-hectare of land to MDC Alliance mayor Solomon Mguni for a monthly charge of $165 for agricultural purposes, a move that has left residents shocked.
A legal notice Number 8155, published in a local publication and signed by Bulawayo town clerk, Christopher Dube, the council is proposing to lease Lot 3 Lower Rangemore to the mayor over an agreement spanning 25 years.
“Notice is hereby given in terms of Section 152(2) of the Urban Councils Act (Chapter 29:15) that the council intends to lease Lot 3 Lower Rangemore in extent approximately 3,5 hectares as shown on Drawing Number TPA 8942 To His Worship The Mayor Councillor Solomon Mguni,” reads the notice.
The principal conditions of the lease, according to the notice, state that the stand shall be used for urban agriculture activities only, and a monthly rental of $165 excluding VAT shall be paid subject to review.
The notice also states that the lease shall be for an initial period of 25 years subject to review.
“Any developments on the stand shall be in accordance with approved plans and relevant council by-laws. All costs related to the lease of the stand to be borne by the applicant,“ the notice adds.
It advised those with objections of the agreement to view the proposal papers at the offices of the director of housing at the Tower Block and lodge their complaints with the town clerk in writing before Friday 19 June 2020.
Kimpton Ndimande, the council finance director is also set to benefit after applying for a lease at the same Lot 3 Lower Rangemore under similar conditions.
However, Bulawayo Progressive Residents Association (BPRA) coordinator Emmanuel Ndlovu said it was improper for the mayor or management to acquire council land when the housing waiting list in the city has a backlog of over 100 000 people and Bulawayo was running out of land while council managers were expropriating vast tracts land.
“It raises serious questions for us as residents. We think this is not the time for councillors and managers to abuse privileges. This is the time they should be thinking in the best interest of the residents but their thinking is far divorced from what an average resident is going through at this moment,” he said.
“We will certainly be objecting. We are sending our objections and lodging them with council giving valid reasons why we think that land should not be grabbed by council managers and the mayor in this case.”
BPRA secretary for administration, Thembelani Dube weighed in saying the deal smacks of corruption.
“The leases will be extended not only to the mayor but the director of finance as well. The whole thing goes back to the by-laws and legislation governing local government. On the other hand, the fact that it has been advertised and people can object to that, then it’s an opportunity for residents to correct what they feel was done in the wrong way,” he said.
“Such practices are not new and exclusive to Bulawayo or council staff only. In the past, we have heard ministers looting large tracts of land. In short, there should be a clear legislative framework to curb such malpractices.”