By Wisdom Mumera
Embattled former Finance Minister Ignatius Chombo has found himself in the middle of another land scandal involving New Parkland where he is accused of unlawfully evicting residents who had built their houses from as far back as 2005 in favour of new ones who have bought stands from his alleged company.
The evictions in New Parkland are in direct opposition to an ongoing court case that is now in its fourth year. An earlier judgement favoured the residents before Chombo contested the ruling.
Chombo who served as Minister of Local Government for a long time allegedly owns New Parkland, through a shelf company called Lyngate, on which nearly 200 residents built houses way back during the heady days of the land reform exercise.
“The residents contested the evictions through the courts and unfortunately the case has been ongoing for the past four years without closure.
“The developer is now playing the residents against each other, in a clear divide and rule method meant to bring confusion to the area,” said Mr Hanyani from the Combined Harare Residents Association (CHRA) who is working with residents from the area.
The New Parkland case has been further complicated by the fact that it falls under two local council jurisdictions.
According to Mr Hanyani both Zvimba Rural District Council (ZRDC) and Harare City Council (HCC) have jurisdiction over the area in a vexatious duplication of oversight that has made ironing out differences a bureaucratic problem.
Some of the evicted New Parkland residents have since resorted to shifting places and erecting illegal shelters in adjacent areas whilst others have remained defiant of Chombo’s moves alleging their ownership of the land.
Chombo is infamous for having acquired stands or built houses in literally every city and town in the country during his reign as the in the Local Government Ministry.
His alleged corruptive tendencies from that time constitute part of the charges in the ongoing corruption and abuse of office court cases for which he has been remanded in jail to December 8.