DRAMA in the housing allocation scam at Whitecliff Farm took a fresh dimension this week with intended beneficiaries accusing Zanu PF officials of coercing
them to sign affidavits absolving them of corruption charges.
Former Whitecliff residents still living in shacks say the officials are bringing pressure to bear on them to withdraw charges after swindling them of huge sums of money on the understanding that they will secure houses built under Operation Garikai/Hlalani Kuhle.
Families who had their homes demolished in a government blitz last May have fingered a Zanu PF party youth leader, Passway Mubaiwa, whom they say fronts senior party officials to swindle prospective home owners of million of dollars.
Each family was told to pay $30 000 to secure a house.
The families claim Mubaiwa is working in cahoots with Zanu PF Sally Mugabe district chairlady, Nolia Ndhlovu, and Zvimba councillor Frank Sada.
More than 604 prospective beneficiaries have petitioned State Security minister Didymus Mutasa, Local Government minister Ignatious Chombo, Zanu PF secretary for information Nathan Shamuyarira and Harare Metropolitan governor, David Karimanzira over the scam.
In July this year, Harare provincial administrator, Justin Mutero Chivavaya, and Harare West district administrator, Nelson Mawomo, were arraigned facing allegations of corruptly allocating 300 houses and 115 stands to undeserving people.
Chivavaya is out on $20 000 bail.
One of the victims, Ernest Nyakatawa, said party officials were holding meetings to intimidate the complainants.
“They label us opposition MDC supporters who are running away from paying rents in Kuwadzana suburb. No party official wants to take action against such clear anomalies,” Nyakatawa said.
Another victim, John Kapito, said Mubaiwa would phone demanding “juice cards” (a euphemism for a bribe).
“After persistent pestering for ‘juice cards’ I paid him $2 000 on June 25 and another $4 000 four days later. I think he was using the words ‘juice cards’ so that the demands would not incriminate him,” Kapito said, pointing to four hovels abandoned by people who were allocated houses although they were not on the initial list of beneficiaries.
Mubaiwa’s mobile phone which he used to demand the bribes was continuously “not available”, on Wednesday and yesterday.
The families also say Mubaiwa forged affidavits purporting that they were withdrawing cases against those who conned them.
One such affidavit states: “I have willingly agreed to withdraw my case against Passway Mubaiwa ID 63-977739-V-25 and that I have done this without fear or force.”
A Commissioner of Oaths, CP Mgijima, on September 13 2006 authenticated the affidavits.
“We were herded into the commissioner’s offices and made to sign documents already written out,” said Kapito’s spouse, Fungisai, who was made to sign on her husband’s behalf.
Kapito recounted how the affected families only managed to get police at Dzivarasekwa onto the case after officials from the Anti-Corruption Commission forced them to take down statements.
Only last week, Mubaiwa allegedly coerced four other families to sign affidavits exonerating him from the bribery charges by threatening to sue them. A compound affidavit shown to the Zimbabwe Independent reads: “I, Passway Mubaiwa, residing at 9525, Whitecliff, do hereby declare that due to differences that ended in court with the following: Regina Nhengo, Shakemore Mucharwa and Fungisai Kapito declare that I have no claims legally or otherwise of whatever nature against the above.”
Kapito said the group was led to a commissioner of oaths, an S Mukunguta on September 3 to renounce their claims to being swindled.
“We were surprised when passersby were called in from the streets to append their signatures as Whitecliff residents for $8 000 each,” Fungisai Kapito said.
She said Ndhlovu took the group to Zvimba North MP Patrick Zhuwao’s office with the forged documents on the pretext that he had sanctioned the withdrawal of the corruption charges, but the deputy minister was not in his office.
The families cited in the affidavit are appearing in court as state witnesses on October 23 and 25 in the case against Mubaiwa and two local government officials out on bail.
Sources said groups representing beneficiaries at Whitecliff — including the Zimbabwe Union of Journalists, the army and teachers — had visited Chombo’s office seeking permission to develop stands allocated to them under Operation Garikai. Officials at Chombo’s office referred the group to Karimanzira.
Karimanzira said he was hamstrung as the issue had been referred to the police. He said all developmental work had been frozen to allow police to investigate anomalies.
While commemorating World Habit Day on October 2, Chombo announced that government would not repossess houses and stands allocated under Operation Garikai/Hlalani Kuhle because the allocations were not done on political grounds.