By Helliet Nyamunda
Residents and stakeholders of Chitungwiza recently held a community cohesion dialogue meeting that was facilitated by Centre for Conflict Management and Tranformation (CCMT).
The dialogue meeting was on the issue of land and Wellcash debt collectors who are threatening to attach residents’ property because they have failed to pay their rates and bills to Chitungwiza municipality.
The emergence of the community cohesion was due to land conflicts backed by politics of patronage being practiced in Chitungwiza and Zimbabwe in general.
Representatives from different political parties were invited to enlighten the residents on issues and conflicts that were happening in the town.
Residents who attended the workshop raised the issue of land barons as the main problem in Chitungwiza. They said that land barons sell illegal land to the people and they go unpunished with their crimes.
Issues of accountability were also raised during the community dialogue meeting as 80% of the land is being owned by one person in Chitungwiza and this corruption is hurting and affecting landless residents who are being robbed by land barons, said another Pastor.
“The municipal is not transparent on land issues which is leading to selling of land by council officials and other corrupt members of the society thereby prejudicing the municipal of the required income,” continued the Pastor.
The Councillors present failed to give satisfactory explanation on what have been done to help the women and the youth to acquire land for residential purposes.
Participants encouraged the Councilors to improve on communication and mobilization skills as residents feel that they are not consulted in the making of decisions that affect them.
“The Municipality is sidelining people’s interests while satisfying theirs,” complained another participant.
On the Wellcash debt collectors issue, residents caim that they were not engaged in the process and council should improve on communication issues. After payment, arrears are not being canceled but rather rising without explanation.
Mai Bee said, “council have come up with the corrupt policy of increasing debts that do not exist, if you pay they penalize you for that and you find that those who do not pay their rates are left and their services are not cut, paying bills in Chitungwiza is more like a crime”.
However, the councilors promised that they were going to represent the residents and fight in their power to stop the Wellcash debt collectors from attaching