LAND GRAB IN VIC FALLS | Dozens of Victoria Falls residents who are part of over 400 home-seekers that are at loggerheads with the local authority over housing stands yesterday invaded a piece of land they say was allocated to them about a decade ago.
The home-seekers are part of a consortium of 17 cooperatives that were allocated land in 2008 at BC847 housing scheme near Mfelandawonye suburb.
The Victoria Falls Municipality subsequently entered into a $12 million partnership with CBZ bank to service the housing stands targeting low income earners.
Members of cooperatives were told that they would be vetted to see if they qualify for the new scheme under the financial institution. Home seekers claim that they contributed close to $600 000 towards servicing the land and connected water supplies while the bank serviced roads and funded sewer works.
The home seekers showed The Chronicle offer letters and stand numbers and said they want the local authority to reverse its deal with the bank.
On Sunday members convened and resolved to take over the stands. This follows a meeting held between representatives of the beneficiaries and council management last Friday where it was resolved that a tripartite meeting be organised with the financial institution.
The Chronicle visited the area yesterday morning and witnessed scores of beneficiaries carrying hoes, axes, mattocks, machetes and rakes clearing their respective stands.
They said they had failed to agree with council, hence they decided to go ahead and take over the stands. The consortium’s co-chair, Mr Demas Chimunda, said: “We had a meeting on Friday where council management admitted that they made a mistake by selling the land to the bank, land which has our stands. A meeting was proposed between council, ourselves and the bank while at the same time the council identifies alternative land to give the bank.”
Beneficiaries allege council never consulted them when it sold the stands to the bank.
They claim they only discovered about the new deal when they met council management on May 30 this year. “They sold our stands without consulting us and when we told them we had secured an investor to service the area they refused. Now they are telling us that it is difficult to cancel the contract with the bank.
“On Sunday members resolved that none of us should go to Harare to meet the bank as we have no business with it hence it’s the council who engage them and not us. It was agreed that anyone who has an offer letter and stand number should come today and clean his or her stand after which everyone should deliver building materials,” said Mr Chimunda.
He said more than 80 percent of the beneficiaries had already acquired building materials and are waiting for approval to start building their houses.
Mr Chimunda said they want council to cancel the deal with the bank and evaluate the work done by the financial institution as they are willing to pay back as a consortium.
Town Clerk Mr Ronnie Dube said the residents’ actions were illegal. He said the local authority is engaging the bank for a win-win solution to the problem.
“What they are doing is illegal and as council we won’t just sit and watch. If they don’t understand the concept of engagement we will end up leaving them to deal directly with the bank because they have no legal standing and by invading that land they are acting illegally,” Mr Dube said.
He said possessing offer letters and stand numbers does not give beneficiaries the legal right over the piece of land.
“The bottom line is that the land belongs to council and when CBZ came they were advised. What these people are afraid of is that they may not qualify for the mortgage,” said Mr Dube.