Looters sold Secretly

THE Libala “Looters” land was plundered and sold secretly by officials without the authorization of the council.

No meeting was held to approve the sale and it is not clear if the council will ever realize the full value of the land which was sold without formal evaluation contrary to procedures.

Apparently the council advertised the Libala tennis and basketball courts in the Times of Zambia newspaper on Wednesday 29th April, 2015 and by Monday, 4th May 2015 the Chinese buyer had been identified and had paid for it.

This was in spite of the fact that the land was not among the properties identified for disposal and the fact that the land was reportedly “un-surveyed.”

An investigation by the Daily Nation has also shown that assets which were supposed to be disposed of to meet debt obligations by the council were also sold at give-away prices, not commensurate with the location and estate value they would have commanded on the open market.

Reached for comment, Lusaka Town Clerk Alex Mwansa said the decision to sell the property could not be reversed as it had already been concluded.

Mr. Mwansa said the council was tired of issuing press statements about the same matter and therefore, people interested should visit the council and go through the documents.

An examination of the council minutes by the Nation, reveals that there was no decision by the council to sell the property to the Chinese investor.

Minute VCU/39/02/15 on which the council justified the sale makes no mention of  the intended sale and actually indicates that the land was not surveyed.

The truth of the matter, according to council insiders, was that at a meeting of 13th April 2015 the council was informed about the recommendations by the valuation committee that Libala tennis court and land surrounding the area was un-surveyed and that the land was underutilized.

The committee recommended that the land around Libala tennis court be re-planned and demarcated for commercial development to eligible applicants, adding that the tennis and basketball courts be fenced off and suitable partner be identified to revamp the place.

The committee also recommended that the buildings adjacent be offered to the sitting tenants for re-development, the recommendations which were all rejected by the council.

The meeting rejected the recommendation.

Contrary to the rejection two weeks later on Wednesday the land was advertised for sale and a few days later awarded to a Chinese developer who intends to construct a shopping mall.

According to documentation made available, only 14 non performing council properties were approved for disposal by 30th December 2014.

Among the properties which were earmarked for sale were Flowers Garden along the Mwatusanga Road in Woodlands, dwelling house in Emmasdale off Vubwi road, offices for the Ministry of Local Government and Housing along Church Road and un-surveyed LUDISEP property in Kabwata and Kamwala.

Others were un-surveyed Chipanda tavern in Matero and Mapode in Mtendere townships and a disused material storeroom in Garden Compound while in Chunga the council recommended the sale of a site office which was also un-surveyed.

In Northmead, the council recommended for sale five shops and a salon and restaurant at Longacres market, the properties which the local authority in Lusaka has since disposed of at giveaway prices.

Fresh information reveals that there was no council meeting which resolved to sell the Libala tennis and basketball court.

Officials within the council told the Daily Nation that, “nowhere in all the meetings had we resolved to sell the tennis court. There is no report that suggests that the property should be sold off to anyone. All council properties before they are sold off they should have a Government valuation report which other properties have and this property in question doesn’t have that report.”

The official said there was no ministerial approval report showing that the ministry had sanctioned the sale of the Libala tennis and basketball court, and that it was the reason why the property did not appear on the list of non-performing council properties.

The official said it was sad that the minister of Local Government Dr. John Phiri had failed to defend the property from being sold illegally saying, the ministry should explain which report they relied on to support the sale of the tennis court.

In July this year Local Government Minister John Phiri attempted to defend Lusaka City Council’s secret sale of some of its property but boomeranged with Chongwe member of Parliament Sylvia Masebo laying on the table of Parliament the local authority’s report detailing the disposal of land near State House.

Local Government and Housing Minister Dr. John Phiri dispelled allegations that Lusaka City Council (LCC) illegally sold nurseries and play parks in the City to private investors.