Soldiers terrorise home-seekers in Kuwadzana

A GROUP of soldiers is allegedly terrorising desperate home-seekers in Kuwadzana Phase Three suburb by grabbing residential stands acquired through housing co-operatives.

Herbert Moyo/Elias Mambo

Investigations by the Zimbabwe Independent over the past two weeks revealed that members of Vana Vevhu Housing Co-operative are living in fear after the soldiers, dressed in military uniform, descended on the area and seized some stands which they have started developing, claiming they bought them.

On Sunday two weeks ago, the soldiers allegedly assaulted a woman with a shovel after she attempted to block the takeover of a stand she said was hers.

“These people are not even bona fide members of our co-operative and we don’t know why they are suddenly claiming our stands,” said the woman who requested anonymity for fear of victimisation.

The Independent visited Dzivarasekwa Police Station two weeks ago as members of the co-operative were trying to make a report of the assault but they were turned away.

To defuse tension, one of the police officers manning the charge office told the group to go and wait outside the police station while some of the suspected soldiers were relaxing outside the offices clad in Zanu PF party regalia.

A source close to the developments said: “These soldiers are hired so that we are intimidated from voicing our concerns over 40 stands that were illegally sold with the money converted to personal use by the former management of the co-operative (names supplied),” the source said.

Zimbabwe National Army director of public relations in the ZNA Lieutenant-Colonel Alphios Makotore said the housing co-operatives were in a better position to comment because the issues are private.

“The issue has nothing to do with the duty of soldiers so I cannot comment on it. The best people to comment are the members of the housing co-operative,” Makotore said.

Vana Vevhu Housing Co-operative treasurer, only identified as Chingoma said the allegations were false and they had documents to prove so.

“All those allegations (of misuse of funds and resold stands) are false because members of the co-operative have a roadmap of what they were supposed to do since 2012. The problem is that there is a struggle over the control of the co-operative,” Chingoma said.

The scam which allegedly involves the chairperson and treasurer of the co-operative has opened a can of worms as members were reportedly ripped off thousands of dollars for developments that never materialised. They were even asked to make contributions towards Zanu PF’s 2011 Annual People’s Conference held in Bulawayo.

The members have also accused the Ministry of Small and Medium Enterprises and Cooperative Development of working with the co-operative leaders. Letters from the ministry officials seen by this paper show that ministry officials are blocking the co-operatives from holding meetings and engaging in activities that they say could enable them to generate income to fund developments.