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    Saturday, 17 December 2016

    Land barons splash cash

    Council workers go 3 months without salaries...


    MASVINGO – Masvingo's land barons are splashing cash on the trendiest cars and constructing state of the art houses while the City Council which is supposed to earn revenue from disposed State land has not been able to pay workers' salaries for the last three months.
    Masvingo Mayor Hubert Fidze told The Mirror in an interview that the local authority has only sold 30 stands in 2016 and realised a total income of $150 000 from the in-fills in Hillside Extension.
    However, land barons are making millions of dollars every year as they hold on to swathes of land that now stretch 20km out of the city. The land barons control thousands of stands each while the City Council has nothing.
    reliably informed that most land barons have an average of 4 000 residential stands each when council has zero. The biggest industry in Masvingo now is the selling of stands whose massive revenue goes in the pockets of a few individuals.
     In the 2017 budget council plans to get $1, 7m from the sale of residential stands but the dilemma, according to Fidze is that the local authority has not been allocated any land by the Central Government and he says chances of getting any are slim as all land around the city has been taken.
    Most of the land released for urban expansion in the last few years went to land barons who have been subdividing it into residential stands and pocketing revenue without making any meaningful developments.
    Vice President Emmerson Mnangagwa and a number of army commanders have been on record blaming the country's economic woes on corruption including the land barons.
    Most of the housing schemes have no piped water, no sewerage, no roads and there are no drainage systems. There are fears of health and other disasters if there are floods this year as most of the already occupied suburbs do not meet the required minimum standards for human habitation.
    Fidze said Council was doing as much as it can to mobilise funds for workers' salaries.
    Before the beginning of the cash crisis Fidze said Council would collect up to 80% of rates per month but that has since gone down to 58% according to October 2016 figures.
    "Council is facing challenges in the collection of revenue from residents as the City's population is dominated by vendors who do not use plastic money as they rely on cash sales on their small businesses. 
    "So if the vendors fail to get cash they in turn do not pay anything to council resulting in council failing to meet its obligations like salary payment to its workers.
    "Currently the Council is in the process of paying October salaries for grades 1 to 9 and we hope to finish the exercise by Friday this week," said Fidzer.
     "We applied for land from the Ministry of Lands for residential stands in surrounding farms but unfortunately they have all been taken away by the private land developers and they acquired this land from the rural council which we have no jurisdiction over," Fidze added.top story
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    Item Reviewed: Land barons splash cash Rating: 5 Reviewed By: Staff Reporter
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