By PRAISEMORE SITHOLE

Gwanda residents have accused their municipality of trying to defraud them of their housing stands by claiming they had failed to develop them.

The municipality announced in November that it was repossessing 215 residential stands which have remained undeveloped for a long period.

It then gave December 5 as the deadline, a cut-off residents are contesting.

“Notice is hereby given in terms of Section 152 (2) of the Urban Councils Act (Chapter 29:15) that it is the intention of the municipality of Gwanda to repossess and re-allocate the residential stands listed here under to other applicants on the council waiting list following that the original holders have failed to develop the said stands,” read the notice.

However, the residents have refused to be cowed into submission accusing the local authority of using sinister means to repossess what belongs to them.

Gwanda Residents Association (GRA) chairperson Bekezela Fuzwayo said they were not going to stand idle and let council grab the stands in violation of the Urban Councils Act.

“Surprisingly, some of the stands listed for repossession already have title deeds and certainly makes it impossible for council to move on them,” Fuzwayo said.

“The residents association is involved on the matter and is making investigations on it. It has since emerged that the council resolution to repossess the stands was done irregularly without following due processes.

“We have since noted that (this is a) council fund raising move by threatening to repossess the stands. We are aware of the huge back log in salary payments that council is trying to clear using proceeds from land sales which on its own is criminal,” Fuzwayo said.

Gwanda mayor, Jastone Mazhale, however, shot down the claim by residents indicating that the aim of the notice was to encourage stand holders to develop their land adding that some of the stands had gone for about 20 years without being developed.

Mazhale argued the municipality desired to see development in the town.

However, residents insisted that the local authority was using irregular means to repossess their stands.