Mugabe's $2,3m land freebie to Zaoga brews storm

HARARE - President Robert Mugabe has brewed a storm after he offered the Zimbabwe Ezekiel Guti University land worth $2,3 million for free.

Officially opening the Zaoga-owned university last Friday, Mugabe said the church was not going to pay a dime for the land, which Bindura council had charged $2,3 million.

“Saka iyo taitaura kare kuti mari iyoyo hamuibhadhare, makabhadhara kare neminamato, takabhadhara kare neropa, vakai vakai hamubise kana kobiri rokutenga, ndizvo zvatakarwira, ndozvatakafira. Nzvimbo ino ndanga ndichitoti idiki. Kana moda kuita vana agriculture . . . mining tokutsvagirai kwokuenda monoisa ikoko macampus akati kuti. (You are not going to pay money for this piece of land, you paid through your prayers, we liberated this country for you to get land. If you want to venture into agriculture . . . mining, tell us, we can give you more land to do what you want),” Mugabe said.

“...Council kana yanga ichitsvaga mari haiwani mari nemutowo iwoyo (Council will not make money through such means),” Mugabe added.

Bindura mayor Innocent Zvigumbu yesterday professed ignorance on the transaction, claiming that it was handled by the previous administration.

Mugabe’s in-laws the Chikores attend Zaoga church, leading to the general belief that the unfamiliar gesture was reportedly influenced by this relationship.

MDC spokesperson Obert Gutu, who is also a legal practitioner, said Mugabe studied law and was well-versed with the basic principles of the law of property.

“He cannot go about dishing out privately-owned land like confetti at a wedding . . . this is not right,” he said.

“We understand that land belongs to Bindura Town Council which has got every right to be paid the $2,3 million.

“How can our local authorities administer their affairs effectively and properly when there is so much unwarranted and illegal interference by powerful political actors? Is this the Zimbabwe that we want?” Gutu queried.

He said that Mugabe’s actions showed that this country had no respect for property rights.

“We are now a fully-fledged banana republic. Zaoga is a very wealthy church organisation and as such, we call upon the church to do the honourable thing and pay the money to the local authority. Even God himself will be pleased and the church will continue to receive abundant blessings,” he said.

Meanwhile, soon after the story on the church having been given the land for free was published, readers gave several views on the Daily News website.

“This is one of Mugabe’s ill-thought and populist policies.

“The council needs to be paid its money or else Mugabe must give the council the money. Where else in the world does this happen? How else will the council earn money to service the town? No wonder why the country is such a mess,” a reader identified as Inyika said.

Another reader only identified as Jembe said Mugabe’s actions were going to create problems as many churches were likely going to mushroom on council land.

“Giving land freely for institutional development . . . if all church organisations are to get land for development without paying a cent where are the councils going to get money for services?” another reader Hwiriti queried, adding that several churches were going to approach Mugabe for land, based on this incident.

Comments (10)

A leader need to be straight forward in his decision making. Now a lot of issues may come out to say why ZAOGA was given free land even if they have more than 2.3 million dollars in their coffers. My advice to church leaders is to refrain from political alignment. The next thing you will hear Pastors saying Mugabe was a God given man which sounds blasphemy we were all blessed by God no matter what positions we hold in society. There is still time for the church to make a decision pay for the land and be given 2.3 million dollars by the President and use it for other things. It is high time people stand for Transparency and Accountability. Better give free land to the poor than giving to rich churches that already have a lot of money.

Chibwedziva - 22 March 2016

@ Chibwedziva no truer words have ever been said.

Galore 123 - 22 March 2016

only an idiot fails to understand that ZOAGA is an extension of zanu pf

truth - 22 March 2016

If the land costed 2.3 million How much has been paid? I understand that the church was given the land way back in 2008 or so, which means they have already paid a fraction. Most probably more than half of the price. So this is not free land, its a discount from his excellency The president considers the contribution of the university to our education system, its a great achievement on the part of government to have these institutes of higher learning.

Officer - 23 March 2016

If the land costed 2.3 million How much has been paid? I understand that the church was given the land way back in 2008 or so, which means they have already paid a fraction. Most probably more than half of the price. So this is not free land, its a discount from his excellency The president considers the contribution of the university to our education system, its a great achievement on the part of government to have these institutes of higher learning.

Officer - 23 March 2016

But surely a church putting up such a university needs the thumbs up and support from the head of state and every politician and reporters as well. Any such development would expect the local council to provide free land as it will benefit from the development of its children etc. It's also a first in Zimbabwe for a local church to do such a decent huge thing while many such churches spend on fast cars, personal mansions etc. If the President as the head of state does not encourage this by making the burden lighter and encouraging more of the same, he would still be blamed for not encouraging development. Well done church. It must be known that if the University was to be demolished, it was not Zaoga's loss as the Bindura Council would have to refund every penny planted in the project after it was its error in double allocations. Zegu was properly allocated the land and their plans approved by council. Public policy would dictate that the party in occupation, having developed the land after intense advertising without objections should proceed. Charles Mukumba was speculatively holding the land and not even aware of Zegu advertising to proceed with construction. Such construction does not take a day or just a year and yet objections only came when the University was now functional. Good for Mukumba for acknowledging that the University was a good thing in his home town which would upgrade and make relevant an otherwise sleeping town. We must applaud the church for doing such. If we chide the church for doing good, an indigenous church for that matter, then what are we asking for when we have complained about churches not playing a positive role. This Zaoga church has done good in this project at a time other churches have even showed off with their money or even donated to soccer. President Mugabe is known for his support for education and this could not pass without his hand in it.

The Corrector - 23 March 2016

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