I'll not be intimidated by Chiyangwa – Mayor
THE dispute between property magnate Phillip Chi-yangwa and Harare Mayor Muchadeyi Masunda over land exchange deals involving at least 25, 8304 hectares of the city’s space has escalated.
The flamboyant businessman has sought the intervention of two ministers, Ignatius Chombo (Local Government) and Walter Mzembi (Tourism) while Masunda has cut short the leave of councillors sitting on the ad hoc committee dealing with the matter. The councillors were meant to resume work next week.
Harare city fathers last year instituted investigations into how Chiyangwa acq-uired vast tracks of land in and around the capital.
The businessman has remained adamant that in 2007 the city approached him to swap residential land for industrial space, which he agreed to and the transaction was done through one of his companies Kilima Investments (Pvt) Ltd.
However, Masunda said: “The ad hoc committee is going steam ahead as mandated by the full council last year. Because of the element of urgency, I gave them the green light to start meeting today (Tuesday). This is not a matter that can be put at abeyance. A matter that is as urgent as this should be addressed.”
Meanwhile, Chiyangwa, who has acquired an Ope-rator’s Licence from the Ministry of Tourism, has written to Chombo chronicling the events that led to the land swap deal now under the spotlight.
In his letter to Chombo dated December 27 2009, Chiyangwa took a swipe at the Mayor and councillors, accusing them of targeting him on political grounds.
“The events leading to the decision by the City of Harare is not only unconstitutional but subjective, humiliating and driven by malice as it is very clear on the facts and documents before you that the councillors did not bother to do a thorough investigation and we think it’s emerging very clear that such serious resolutions could only have been arrived at by over zealous people who either have substituted themselves with the management executive of the city council,” he said.
“They (councillors) no longer listen to the executive, namely the Town Clerk, directors and chamber secretary as these people would have proffered their knowledge and existence of fundamental information, which would save both parties from engaging in unproductive meetings, squabbles and subjectivity."
A fuming Chi-yangwa added: “The bottom line is that the new councillors and mayor think they can bring change to the fortunes of the city spending time and resources attacking Phillip Chiyangwa and his companies whereas the record speaks for itself that not only is a futile political exercise but worthless to the ratepayers.”
Chiyangwa then called the mayor and his team a “collective of highly inept people lacking discourse, direction, requiring extension services of local governance.”
The outspoken businessman then wrote another letter to the permanent secretary in the Ministry of Tourism Slyvester Maunganidze blaming Masunda for delaying the construction of a National Tourism Project-designated tourism facility Number HTS0146, operator’s licence number 0331k in Borrowdale.
However, Masunda would have none of that. He retaliated saying: “Nobody should prejudge the outcome of the ad hoc committee investigations. Chiyan-gwa has been writing defamatory letters about me to Chombo, Maunganidze copying them to a host of other people, but that doesn’t wash with me.
I will not be intimidated by anyone. Let’s not lose sight of the issues at hand. I don’t understand why he is throwing up a lot of dust. One gets the impression that he is trying to blur issues. If indeed it transpires that there is a conflict of interest, I will recuse myself, but so far there is nothing to suggest that. I am not susceptible to pressure from anyone.”
Chiyangwa, says an investigation that has been instituted by the Harare City Council to determine how he acquired his many housing and business stands in Harare is motivated by malice.
Speaking to a independent radio station in an exclusive telephone interview, Chiyangwa, said he had acquired his stands in a transparent manner.
“That investigation is motivated by malice, it is aimed at tarnishing my image, there are people who do not want to see people prosper in life,” said Chiyangwa.
He claimed that it is the Harare City Council which owes him land.
“I gave the Harare City Council my land and all I was doing in the past is to get back my land,” said Chiyangwa.
“I am wondering why this so called investigation is concentrating on me as if I am the only one who has bought land in the last few years. I would have understood it if this investigation was investigating everyone who bought land in Harare.”
The Harare City Council has set up a committee to investigate how Chiyangwa acquired vast tracts of land around the city without council approval.
The investigating team launched the investigation on Wednesday.
Council has already instructed the flamboyant businessman to stop developing a public open space meant for a recreational multipurpose park in Borrowdale.
But Chiyangwa, a nephew of President Robert Mugabe, has stuck his guns out.
“I cannot be stopped by people who have nothing, people who have no vision, no property, all they wait for is to look at how they can destroy Chiyangwa just because everything that he touches turns gold,” he said.
He went on to accuse the Mayor of Harare of being jealous.
“My problem is that all things that I do succeed so there are some people who are not happy about that. We meet with Masunda somewhere but let me tell you in business I am strong,” said Chiyangwa without elaborating.
The city council recently ordered Chiyangwa’s Kilma Investments to suspend work on a multi-million dollar hotel project in Borrowdale stating that the development was ‘illegal’.
The councillors said Chiyangwa’s acquisition of large acres of land in the peri-urban farms around the city has to be investigated through a land audit to check how he ended up owning the land.
Deliberating at a full council meeting at Town House, the councillors agreed to set up a committee to investigate how the Pinnacle Holdings boss acquired land that he continue to advertise for sale.
The debate was raised by Ward 19 councilor Munyaradzi Kufahakutizwi said it was very unfair for an individual to own huge tracts of land at the expense of ordinary residents.
“It is not surprising to note that the businessman might have got the land for peanuts and he is now selling the stands at exorbitant prices. You see the adverts everywhere and where is that money going and is it of any help to the council?” asked Kufahakutizwi at the meeting.
Mabvuku councillor Casper Takura also supported the motion to investigate arguing council land should be sold to residents after a full council resolution okaying the move.
“Council land must be a prerogative of the poor so whatever deals that are being undertaken to enrich one man must be stopped,” said Takura.
The councillors expressed concern that Chiyangwa has been issued too many stands and they suggested that it must be stopped.
Asked about yet another land wrangle that he is involved in with the Chinhoyi Municipality, Chiyangwa said, “Let me finish with Harare City Council then I can deal with Chinhoyi.”
Chiyangwa is allegedly refusing to vacate a farm owned by the Chinhoyi Municipality.
Scores of Zimbabweans in the Diaspora who have invested in real estate through businessman Phillip Chiyangwa’s flagship Pinnacle Properties now stand to lose out after a major dispute erupted between him and the Harare City Council over how the former acquired vast tracts of land in prime residential areas of the city. Additional reporting from Radio VOP and The Financial Gazett