ARDA Board chairman and businessman Mr Basil Nyabadza has been sucked into a billion-dollar scandal that involves axed Presidential Affairs Minister Didymus Mutasa in which he sourced a $400 000 loan from the Commercial Bank of Zimbabwe (CBZ) using State land as surety, investigations by The Herald have revealed.
Documents show that Government gazetted Rocking Stone Farm of 891,31ha in 2001 for the expansion of Rusape Town.
Government also gazetted for the same purposes Zimati Kop, a farm measuring 1115,58ha being a farm registered in the name of Kenneth C. Ziehl. The farms were gazetted following a request by Rusape Town Council for additional land for urban expansion.
In a letter to then Manicaland provincial Governor Cde Oppah Muchinguri on August 22, 2000, Rusape Town Council successfully applied to Government to gazette Rocking Stone and Zimati Kop farms.
This meant the farms became State land immediately after they were gazetted.
But not withstanding this, Mr Nyabadza went ahead to use Rocking Stone Farm as collateral when he obtained the $400 000 loan from CBZ.
Despite resistance from Rusape Town Council, Mr Nyabadza is going ahead with plans to subdivide Rocking Stone Farm for housing purposes after establishing a real estate company in which he has roped in a foreign company.
Sources say Mr Nyabadza was able to prevail over council using Mr Mutasa as a political shield.
Before he was fired from both Government and Zanu-PF, Mr Mutasa was a feared politician, especially in his home province of Manicaland where he ruled by fist.
In a letter to Rusape Town Council, copied to Mr Mutasa dated October 7, 2013 titled
Proposed Subdivision of Rocking Stone Farm owned by E.C.R Mordit (Pvt) Ltd held under deed of transfer Number 6653/99, Mr Nyabadza wrote: “On behalf of E.C.R Mordt (Pvt) Ltd being represented by myself, Mr Basil Simon Nyabadza (ID No. 63-635479A-42), I write to inform you that it is our intention to subdivide Rocking Stone Farm.”
“The proposed subdivision will be done in accordance with the existing Rusape Town Council Master Plan which has zoned the farm for mostly high-density residential development. We also welcome any input from council which gives value to the project. It is our intention to work with council right from the initial stages of the proposed subdivision.
Some of the areas requiring your council’s input are bulk water supply and sewerage treatment and disposal. Rusape Town Council as the local authority has a substantial stake in this project. We therefore expect to work together as stakeholders for the benefit and growth of Rusape Town.”
While Mr Nyabadza represented Mordt in the letter to council, he told The Herald that he bought the farm in 2000.
Council told Mr Nyabadza the farm now belonged to Rusape Town Council.
“Rocking Stone Farm is now owned by Rusape Town Council and has been earmarked for Urban Development as proclaimed by the Presidential proclamation…Please note that the proclamation is now law as exhibited by Statutory Instrument 148 of 2013 (Proclamation No. 4 of 2013 as read with Statutory Instrument 149 of 2013 (Proclamation No. 5 of 2013).
“You are kindly advised not to proceed with any development without consent or express authority from Rusape Town Council,” reads a letter to Mr Nyabadza signed by Rusape Town Council Secretary, Mr Joshua Maligwa.
Council says after failing to reach an understanding with Mr Nyabadza over the issue, a team from the local authority led by its chairman Mr Amon Chawasarira travelled to Harare early last year to engage Mr Mutasa on realising that the then Presidential Affairs Minister was the power behind the Arda board chairman.
Said Mr Maligwa: “We went to see Minister Mutasa last year. Minister Mutasa said it was wrong for Nyabadza to claim the land as his but went on to say sevana vemhuri imwe (Zanu-PF) gadzirisanayi kuti mose mudye. We met Minister Mutasa at Chaminuka Building.”
Ever since that meeting, council has failed to get Rocking Stone Farm and Zimati Kop for development into residential stands.
In an interview with The Herald last week, Mr Mutasa distanced himself from the case.
“Nyabadza murume mukuru anoita zvinhu zvake ega,” he said.
Mr Nyabadza told The Herald on Thursday last week that he bought the farm in 2000 and has title deeds to it even though in his communication with Rusape Town Council he indicated he was acting on behalf of E.C.R Mordt.
“I bought the farm from Mordt around 2000 and I fully paid for it in 2003. I took title of the land. Naturally, I bank with CBZ. I bought it and then I used the property as my security portfolio for my exposure with the bank since 2003,” he said.
Asked why he used the farm as security when it had been gazetted for urban expansion, Mr Nyabadza said: “Incorporation is not ownership. It is an intention by Government to say we want to do this. Ownership is a very delicate word. When Government proclaims land, that is fine but that does not mean ownership.”
He was adamant the farm belonged to him and he was in the process of developing it into residential area.
“I have applied for the development of Rocking Stone Farm into a Real Estate and passed all the necessary stages including topography, planning, design concept and what is left is accessing the necessary development permit but subject to current negotiations with my bankers.”
Council says the farms if developed in stands have a $3 billion value.
A senior civil servant in the Ministry of Lands and Rural Resettlement said once land is gazetted it belongs to the State.
“As long as we have gazetted the land, it becomes State land. It cannot sold as doing so is violation of the law,” said the official.
Efforts to get a comment from CBZ chief executive Mr Never Nyemudzo were fruitless as he did not pick his phone. herald