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    Monday, 22 July 2019

    Bring all your receipts - Land Commission orders ZBC reporter

     Jackie Gwemende.

    NKULUMANI MLAMBO
    EDITOR

    HARARE – The Commission of Inquiry into the matter of sale of State Land in and around urban areas has ordered ZBC bulletins manager Jacqueline Gwemende to bring all receipts for a US$17 000 low density residential stand that she bought from River Valley Properties in Gweru.
    Although Gwemende initially told the hearing held at Harare Club on Tuesday last week that she got two stands from River Valley Properties, she changed her statement under cross examination and said she had three.
    Gwemende who was the ZBC bureau chief in the Midlands Province for several years told the Commissioners that she bought two stands from River Valley and got a third for free because it was commonage.
    She got a low density stand number 3074 in Hertfordshire Park measuring 1339m2 and she said it cost her $17 000 and stand number 14924 again in Hertfordshire for free after only paying $20. She confirmed having a third stand from River Valley but this one was not probed into during the hearing.
    The Commissioners who of late have been questioning senior civil servants, council officials, journalists and local government authorities on unexplained EcoCash payments made into their accounts by River Valley which is the biggest private land developer in Gweru asked Gwemende to produce receipts for her US$17 000 stand.
    She had brought two receipts, one for $200 and another for $5 000 although she told the Commission that she paid a total of $15 000 for the stand. She said she paid the $5 000 from the money that she made when she went on a Government trip to Geneva and the Commissioners questioned her on why her $200 receipt was written joining fees when she was only buying a stand. Commissioner Stephen Chakaipa said joining fees applied to beneficiaries who bought stands as a co-operative.
    “What were you joining since you were buying from a private company and not a cooperative?” queried Commissioner Stephen Chakaipa while holding the $200 receipt.
    Chingono then asked Gwemende to explain circumstances surrounding stand number 14924 Hertfordshire for which she only paid $20. In response Gwemende said that the stand was given to her for free under commonage. Chingono then explained that commonage stands are 10% of the total stands developed by a developer which are surrendered to Government.
    “Do you work for Government? Why would you receive Government stands?” asked Chingono.
    Gwemende said ZBC is owned by Government and that is probably how she ended up getting that stand. She however, told the Commission that she did not take much interest in the stand and has never made a follow-up.
    “Please bring to the secretariat the other receipts showing the amounts you paid to River Valley Properties and this should be done by 12pm on Friday July 12, 2019,” ordered Justice Uchena.
    Commissioners also questioned the credibility of Gwemende’s Agreement of Sale document which differed from others at the same housing scheme. Commissioners wondered why her agreement was different from others and advised her to go and rectify.
    “Your agreement of sale with River Valley Properties is different from the rest. You paid a joining fee of $200 with no breakdown and yet in agreements that River Valley has with other beneficiaries there is a development fee of $70 for environmental impact assessment, $30 administration fee and $70 surveying fees.
    “I advise you to go and get your agreement of sale properly made as you seem to have paid some monies which are not captured,” said Commissioner Chingono.
    “I don’t know why my agreement of sale are like this maybe it was just special treatment,” said Gwemende who started off confidently but was getting angry as the hearing went on.
    Gweru-based Herald Senior Reporter, Freedom Mupanedemo was the first journalist to be summoned before the Commission. He confirmed that he received EcoCash payments from one of the companies linked to Dube but could not say what he was being paid for.
    The Mirror understands that there are State media journalists in Gweru who openly ran public relations programmes for some land barons to the extent of running their functions, making payments on their behalf and even driving the land barons’ branded cars during the said businesses.
    Such arrangements between land barons and the journalists compromised the latter’s work to the extend that journalists looked aside when crime was allegedly being committed.
    #Masvingo Mirror#
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