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.