BULAWAYO City Council has given deputy mayor Gift Banda preferential treatment by issuing him with a rates clearance certificate that enables him to change ownership of property before debts are cleared.
According to a latest council report, Banda bought a property through an auction, but had been struggling to transfer ownership due to outstanding debts.
The debts now amount to $17 854,48 and Banda had pledged to clear them by June.
According to council financial director Kimpton Ndimande, any property under council’s jurisdiction has ownership changed only after rates and taxes for that property are paid in full.
A rates clearance certificate is issued by the rates section of the council’s financial services department upon payment of the rates of that particular property.
The certificate is then used by the Deeds Registry to effect the transfer.
However, in February, Banda wrote to council seeking a waiver.
“I duly write to you to request for terms in the clearance of rates on 16 Northway Road, Burnside, Bulawayo.
“The property was bought at an auction one year ago and we would like to transfer ownership from the previous owners, but we have been facing challenges due to the rates owed to the City of Bulawayo by the previous owner which we have inherited according to the auction laws.
“We are hereby requesting for the clearance certificate at the same acknowledging the debt which we will endeavour to clear by the end of June 2014,” wrote Banda.
According to the report, in reaching its decision, council said although it was “not exactly in line with the provisions of the Act”, it took into consideration that former mayor Thaba Moyo “was given favourable arrangements for extinguishing his debt in respect of purchase of the mayoral vehicle despite the fact that he was no longer a sitting councillor”.
Moyo walked away with a luxury Chrysler 2L CRO Dodge Journey which he used as his official vehicle during his tenure after the council sold it to him for $7 000 as part of his exit package.
He is paying a meagre $195 per month over an 18-month period.
The Dodge was bought under controversial circumstances in 2010 for $65 000 – a price alleged to have been inflated by up to $30 000.