Friday, 17 June 2016


The Urban Development Corporation, a Government entity mandated to ensure provision of housing, has come under fire for raiding bank accounts of 81 co-operatives in Caledonia and withdrawing varying amounts running into millions.

 The 81 co-operatives have since signed a petition that was submitted to the Federation of Co-operatives over the conduct of Udcorp.

Further, the entity that falls under the Ministry of Local Government, Public Works and National Housing, is accused of allocating stands in Caledonia, yet its brief is only limited to the development of infrastructure.

In one of the cases, Udcorp was forced to return $64 000 that was unilaterally debited from the account of Rekayi Tangwena Housing Co-operative. This was after the co-operative engaged its lawyers seeking to know why Udcorp was making such unilateral transactions.

It had emerged that Udcorp convinced the Commercial Bank of Zimbabwe that it was the bona fide project manager, appointed by Government to develop the Caledonia Housing Project and as such, it should have unfettered access to all bank accounts of the housing co-operatives in that area.

The co-operatives argued that Udcorp devised that trick as a way of by-passing the signatories to the accounts who wanted to know how their money was going to be used before authorising any withdrawal.

Mr Tinei Gwariwa, who is the Ministry of Local Government, Public Works and National Housing accountant responsible for all projects on State land, confirmed that they were effecting auto money transfer from the housing co-operatives’ accounts, but that had since stopped a fortnight ago.

He said the housing co-operatives were asked to sign Memoranda of Agreement to that effect.

However, some of the co-operatives said their accounts were accessed even if they had not signed the agreements, while others said the purported Memoranda were vague and they were forced to sign.

Mr Gwariwa defended the move to do auto transfers of money into the Udcorp account saying that decision was arrived at to ensure quick payment of service providers.
“The reason why we did that was when we wanted to access those funds some of the signatories will not be available yet we wanted to pay service providers on the ground,” he said. “Those funds are not for chairpersons, but beneficiaries of the housing project.”

Mr Gwariwa said their operations in Caledonia were transparent and they had posted a financial statement with a breakdown of how they had used the money in the press last week. He said they reversed the $64 000 into the Rekayi Tangwena account only to avoid legal issues, but that did not mean that the money now belonged to the co-operative.
However, the co-operatives yesterday gave a different narrative nailing Udcorp as a corrupt entity judging by its operations on the ground.
Chairman of the God’s Glory Housing Co-operative, Mr Maxwell Murombo, said they were not against Government development in Caledonia, but they had strong reservations by the way Udcorp was conducting its business.
Said Mr Murombo: “When Udcorp came it announced that it had taken over all operations and each co-operative should open an account with CBZ where members should deposit their money.
“We complied and started to deposit our monies there. The arrangement was that if Udcorp wanted funds to carry out certain developments they would inform us as signatories to the accounts and we inform our membership that will in turn empower us to sign for the withdrawal of that money.

“All members were asked to buy cards that confirm their stand numbers, but later we realised that some of the cards were coming with a bank account different from the ones that we have opened as co-operatives where members were asked to deposit their money.

“The new account was a CBZ account 02124168270016 yet we have our accounts that were even published in The Herald of August 26, 2015 by Udcorp itself.”
Mr Percy Toriro who is the chairperson of the Caledonia Housing Project said he was happy with the way work was being done.

“I am happy with the progress so far and anyone with problems should approach me,” he said.

“If they are not convinced by what I say they are free to approach the Minister (Kasukuwere) who is the ultimate authority on all operations in Caledonia.”

His assertion was quickly shot down by the supervisory chairperson of Rekayi Tangwena Housing Co-operative Mr Simon Kamhoti who said: “We haven’t seen any meaningful development here and what they (Udcorp) want here is to have access to our money without being questioned.

“They are bringing people from other places such as Harare South to see some developments, which include a road that they say is a model of the kind of development that they want in all towns. That road they are claiming to be theirs is being developed by Larfage Cement as part of its social responsibility.

“However, we have seen Udcorp bringing people including some members of the media who will be used to praise the project on either television or in the newspapers. Only yesterday there was a bus that came from Harare South for that purpose.” herald


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