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More heads to roll in Harare’s shady land deals

HARARE City Council (HCC)’s illegal million-dollar land deals could claim the scalps of more top officials and councillors amid allegations that their syndicates were illegally parcelling out recreational open spaces across the capital for a song without seeking authority from government, NewsDay Weekender has learnt. BY DESMOND CHINGARANDE The alleged scams recently landed HCC’s head of planning Priscilla Charumbira (pictured) in the eye of a storm after she irregularly changed land use plan for open spaces in Sunningdale and along Samora Machel Avenue and allocated the land to acolytes and friends at the expense of the public. The move could render Metro Peech wholesale in Sunningdale and service stations built in residential locations at the Harare Exhibition Centre (Harare Showground) along Samora Machel as “illegal structures” after she reportedly failed to seek the authority of her superiors and the Local Government and Public Works ministry sometime in 2016. The land where Metro Peech has built its wholesale was a recreational open space which was unprocedurally turned into a commercial zone, while residential spaces were illegally turned into commercial.Charumbira was also accused of unprocedurally allocating an open space opposite Harare Quarry to one Chisvo. Charumbira, who is wife to Chiefs’ Council president Fortune Charumbira, was also accused of allocating herself two acres of land at the corner of High Glen and Gleneagles road, ignoring the fact that the town planner had initially reserved it as an open space. But Charumbira yesterday dismissed the allegations as malicious and bent on tarnishing her professional image.“The allegations are all denied,” she said. “Coming specifically to the sites being referred to, I was not involved in the processing and approval of those plans. The record will show that the plans were approved during the time I had been re-assigned to the newly created position of land management and development manager.” Charumbira added: “These are malicious and blatant lies bent on tarnishing my professional image. This emanates from the fact that the investigators from the municipal police through the town clerk’s office and ZRP CID [Zimbabwe Republic Police Criminal Investigations Department] identified me as one of the people who can act as a credible expert witness on town planning standard operating procedures.” She further said it was trite to note that all plans were approved by council first through council resolutions before the city planner could sign.Charumbira added that all the procedures on the said open spaces were followed. “There is no issue here. Barapate and Wakewill is an independent company where my husband is a share holder with others. One, the company procedurally applied to lease (not buying) land at the corner of Gleneagles and High Glen roads to park haulage trucks,” she said. “Two, the lease has not yet been finalised (the lease is yet to be signed). The finance committee and full council have already resolved to lease the stand. All the documents are ava

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