Harare Mayor Squares Off Against Mugabe Nephew
Mugabe nephew and prominent businessman, Philip Chiyangwa (above) is now locked in a fight with the Mayor of Harare, Much Masunda, over a land deal that the mayor wants investigated in order to establish how hectares of prime land could be handed over to a private business concern in Harare. Chiyangwa has reportedly now politicised the matter, writing to ZANU PF leaders accusing Masunda of persecuting him for being a member of ZANU PF
Harare, Zimbabwe, 10 January 2010
Harare Mayor Muchadeyi Masunda has launched a probe into a deal which handed Philip Chiyangwa, Mugabe's nephew and prominent Zimbabwean business almost 25 hectares of prime land in Harare.
I have previously reported on the scandal surrounding the land deal on this blog, after ownership was disputed, with one company saying the land, formerly a per-urban farm, was rightfully theirs and Chiyangwa saying he has bought that land and is the rightful owner.
Chiyangwa, upon hearing of the probe launched by the Harare City Council, has apparently decided to politicise the whole matter. Masunda is quoted in the press on Sunday as writing to Chiyangwa telling him that Council is aware that he (Chiyangwa) has written to several prominent ZANU PF politicians complaining that he is being targeted for supporting ZANU PF and that the land was legally his, lawfully acquired.
Masunda says in the letter to Chiyangwa that he "will not be intimidated" by these moves to involve prominent ZANU PF leaders in the dispute. He insists that the investigation will proceed and if Chiyangwa got the land fairly in a transparent manner, then he should allow the probe to establish that and not politicise the matter even before the investigation is done.
Chiyangwa owns Pinnacle Properties which, despite what you may think of his politics, is actually doing a sterling job creating housing all over Zimbabwe where the government is failing to do what even Ian Smith was able to do - provide decent and cheap housing to Zimbabwe's lower classes.
Mayor Masunda, besides being an advocate at law, is also an extremely highly regarded businessman who sits on the boards of more than two hundred companies in Zimbabwe. He is known for his scrupulous approach to business and says he wants to simply establish how the deal for Chiyangwa to get that much prime land in urban Harare was sealed.
Should it be proved that the deal is above board, I am certain that Masunda will be at the forefront of defending Chiyangwa's rights to the land. The best Chiyangwa can do is perhaps let the matter take its course, if everything is above board.
But Zimbabwe remains polarised despite the fake Unity Government. Intolerance and partisan behaviour still rules the roost, with ZANU PF members intent on showing that their party still holds all the power, while MDC people strive to show that they do have some muscles to flex.
But the interesting thing is that Masunda is not a member of the MDC or ZANU PF or any other party, despite leading the MDC-dominated Council. When the Harare MDC Councilors invited him to take the position of Non-Executive Mayor, he made it clear that he was doing so as a citizen and not as a politician.
There are some of us who observe as uninterested parties who see this as a good thing, whether or not there is something wrong with the deal. Masunda is simply approaching the affairs of council as a business in which corruption and favouritism have no place.
His status in Zimbabwean society is such that he is not afraid of anyone. Which can only be good for citizens of Harare.