A Zimbabwean PARLIAMENTARY committee investigating the impact of housing co-operatives in national housing development has exposed shocking evidence of abuse at Herbert Chitepo Housing Co-operative, which takes its name from one of the country’s outstanding liberation war icons.
The Portfolio Committee on SME and Co-operative Development said the co-operative had not actually held annual general meetings since 2009. The accounts have not been audited for the past 6 years which is a criminal offence under the Zimbabwe laws. That said, those responsible are free, and one disappeared into thin air after members demanded accountability. No doubt with a significantly enhanced bank account.
Based in Kuwadzana Extension in Harare, (the Capital of Zimbabwe) Herbert Chitepo Housing Co-operative has 501 members, one of the biggest in Zimbabwe, however 88 of their members are yet to receive their stands. The Parliament committee said it was concerned by the developments at the co-operative, but the Ministry of Small and Medium Enterprises and Co-operative Development said it was difficult to close such large and complex co-operatives like Herbert Chitepo.
The Parliamentary committee, which carried public hearings at the co-operative, said in a report released in June 2015 that, “this is the most problematic housing co-operative that was cited by the Ministry of Small and Medium Enterprises and Co-operative Development,” .
“The management committee of the co-operative, chaired by Mr Chinyanga, was accused by the majority of its members of abuse of office and misappropriation of funds.”
“Since 2009, 6 years ago, the housing co-operative has neither held its annual general meetings nor had its financial records audited in line with the Co-operative Societies Act. The ministry highlighted that it could not place such controversial co-operatives under liquidation, however this means that the majority of members of the society would lose their hard earned contributions if the co-operative was dissolved.”
“During the public hearing, it emerged that some members were unfairly kicked out of their houses; some of the female members experienced gender based violence and there were regular physical fights between the management committee and some it’s members as well as a host of other unresolved, hostile conflicts.”
In addition, the committee was informed that the treasurer of the Herbet Chitepo co-operative had disappeared following mounting pressure from the society’s members to account for the society financial resources,”.
The corrupt rot in administration at Herbert Chitepo Co-operative epitomes mismanagement that has characterised various housing co-operatives across Zimbabwe, which has forced the ministry to contemplate setting up a tribunal to handle a flood of complaints.
However, the model of co-operatives, which was adopted by the Government as far back as 1980 when they came into power, has failed to work in Zimbabwe, where hundreds of income generating projects then expected to later develop into fully fledged companies providing jobs and opportunities, unfortunately collapsed in the formative years of the country’s independence down to corruption, theft of funds and mismanagement.
The co-operative concept has recently returned in the form of housing co-operatives trying to create pools of financial resources among low incomes earners to buy land and develop low cost houses.
However, yet again, the housing co-operatives have become the centres of fraud, abuse of people by the connected elites and corruption, which has recently seen ZANU-PF youths being arrested and charged for defrauding people of funds while lying that they were being sent by powerful personalities. The co-operatives use the names of respected nationalists and those with links to the liberation struggle over 35 years ago.
The names include that of the late first lady Sally Mugabe, Herbert Chitepo, Border Gezi (Gezi was in charge of recruiting and organising groups of young ZANU-PF supporters into a militia in 2000. The militia groups he led were implicated in violent attacks on supporters of the Movement for Democratic Change, and in invasions of white-owned farms. At a special ZANU-PF congress later that year, Gezi was appointed Secretary for the Commissariat, with responsibility for organizing Robert Mugabe’s re-election as President two years later. He was killed when his car skidded off the Harare-Masvingo road (apparently hitting a black dog in the dark) and crashed in April 2001) and several other colourful and interesting characters.
“Twelve housing co-operatives were cited for defying…Co-operative Societies Act, as well as, using it as a tool to intimidate dissenting voices,” the committee said.
In similar news the Zimbabwe property market has been hit by a wave of fraudulent activity. Common fraud with regards to title deeds includes:
- Relatives and creditors altering tittle deeds records at the Registrar for deceased estates
- Bonds (loans) being registered against properties without knowledge of ALL the rightful owners
- Money being collected for property sales without the transfer of tittle deeds to the buyer being recorded at the Registrar
- Sales or letting of property without the knowledge or consent of the tittle deed holder