THE Affirmative Action Group (AAG) has accused Bulawayo City Council (BCC) of abuse of office after the local authority allegedly sold a stand to deputy mayor, Gift Banda at less than half the commercial value.
BY NQOBANI NDLOVU
In a letter dated November 9 addressed to acting town clerk, Sikhangele Zhou, AAG principal officer for Matabeleland chapter, Silani Mtshiya raised concern over the land that was “given” to Banda.
“We note with great concern the offer for purchase of stand No 18827 Bulawayo Township measuring 3,5 hectares,” he wrote.
“As revealed by the Bulawayo City Council, the stand was offered to the deputy mayor, Councillor Gift Banda, at a purchase price of $130 000. This is in spite of the fact that the stand is valued at between $400 000 and $600 000 on the open market.
This offer to purchase was written on May 15, 2015, prior to the ministerial memo granting councillors access to land at discounted rates.”
Zhou and Banda were unreachable for comment yesterday. However, Banda has on numerous occasions denied charges that he was corruptly allocated the stand.
In August, BCC was forced to call a Press conference to defend a raft of allegations that were being raised by AAG against the local authority’s conduct of business.
Before that, AAG had taken BCC to the High Court seeking the suspension of all councillors and appointment of a commission of inquiry to investigate alleged tender irregularities at the local authority.
The letter also raised concern at the manner in which the valuation of the stand was carried out, in order to price it at that paltry figure for such a prime location in an upmarket area.
“I find it insulting, at the very least, that the very same Councillor Banda would have the audacity to seek further concession from the people of Bulawayo to permit a further discounting of his purchase price on the stand. This reeks of corruption and attempts at defrauding the city of a precious limited resource,” Mtshiya said.
The AAG said of note was that Banda has already had access to a number of properties through his companies.
Mtshiya said the the fact that local authorities were given leeway to exercise discretion in executing the ministerial directive on councillors purchasing land, must not lead to abuse of the city land.