Councillors ponder tribunal over Looters land


SOME councillors at the Lusaka City Council want a tribunal set up to investigate the manner the land surrounding Looters tennis and basketball courts were disposed of by the local authority.

Lusaka City Council Town Clerk Alex Mwansa has explained to the Daily Nation that there was nothing sinister about the sale of the land to the Chinese company for the construction of shopping mall.

The councillors who met on Sunday at Grand Palace Hotel in Lusaka, resolved to petition the Chief Justice Ireen Mambilima to set up a tribunal against Local Government Minister John Phiri to investigate how he allowed the disposal of the council property.

The councillors said procedure to dispose of such a huge property was not followed and that council did not resolve to sell the land in question.

“We did not resolve to sell that land but to identify a partner who can develop the land and not what they did. The minister gave a go-ahead to have the land sold against acouncil resolution to identify a developer,” one councillor said.

The officials said they would this week be meeting lawyers for legal advice on how to proceed with the tribunal in order for the truth to come out.

They also want the minister to explain the land behind Tazara House where another Chinese national was allowed to build shops on water pipelines and Zesco power facility.

But the Lusaka City Council has explained that the controversial Looters land in Libala was sold at a total cost of over K12 million to a Chinese construction company after meeting the application fee of K25,000.

Mr Mwansa explained to the Daily Nation that there was nothing sinister about the sale of the land to the Chinese construction company for construction of the shopping mall. Mr Mwansa explained that there were nine prospective businessmen who had shown interest in the land but that the condition attached to the sale of the land discouraged them.

“The land had a condition attached to it. There was a K25,000 for the application form non-refundable fee which any interested buyer should have paid to the local authority. There was also the issue of the highest bidder and out of the nine who had shown interest only the Chinese company met the conditions as resolved by the council and the Chinese company offered to pay the local authority over K12 million,” Mr. Mwansa said.

He said the council also set other conditions such as there should not  be change to the initial plan which was tennis and basketball courts, adding that before any construction of the shopping mall could commence, the playing facility should be the first to be constructed at the plot.

Mr. Mwansa said other conditions were that all the sporting facilities to be set up at the mall should add a modern standard value and should be made available to the community on a free basis.

“There is nothing bad about this deal, all what we did was to look at the long term value of the facility. If you can pass through that place you will find that some people were even digging on that plot. But what the council wants to do is to add value to the appearance of the city by bringing in modern facilities in the area. Yes the minutes do not talk about selling, but the process we applied helped us to identify the real developer who can do his works within a period of three years a condition other interested local companies and individuals failed to meet,” he explained.

He also said the Minister of Local Government and Housing Dr. John Phiri gave a ministerial approval for the activity as proposed by the council in order to add value to the sporting facility and the residential areas at large.