LOCAL Government minister Saviour Kasukuwere has been accused of usurping Small to Medium Enterprises minsiter Sithembiso Nyoni’s powers, as the row over the Urban Development Corporation (Udcorp) spilled into the courts last week.
BY RICHARD CHIDZA
In papers filed at the High Court, the National Co-operatives Federation (NCF) a body representing millions of members of co-operatives countrywide, Kasukuwere is accused of usurping President Robert Mugabe’s powers.
The minister cited as the second respondent is accused of using a serving Airforce boss Air Commodore Innocent Chiganze to allegedly brutalise members of cooperatives who have refused to join Udcorp.
“The actions of the second respondent are seriously and dangerously curious as this is an unprecedented coup de tat of a minister by another without any legislative back up of his actions.
“ The actions of the 2nd respondent is to take over the appointed ministerial functions of another minister without the blessing of the President which prerogative is that of the president of the Republic of Zimbabwe,” the applicants, who include NCF, Home Struggle Cooperative Union, Harare North Housing Co-operative, Ushewokunze Housing Co-operative Society and Harare South Housing Apex Society said.
Kasukuwere’s actions the applicants said “has fomented chaos in the Republic to the chagrin of the largest government political constituency in the country that is cooperatives”.
Udcorp the first respondent in the matter is accused of arrogating itself power that is beyond the confines of the Urban Corporation Act that “it cannot have extra income except as is lawfully obtained in terms of the law that created it”.
“Strangely the first and second respondent have taken it upon themselves to turn into a development company and force cooperatives to subscribe money and to date they (have) collected millions of dollars which are not accounted for,” the court papers show.
Harare North Co-operative Society reportedly paid a staggering $700 000 to Udcorp and the Local Government ministry “but no projects were done”.
“In Caledonia from August last year first respondent collected over $23 000 000 by direct contributions from members and managed to build four cheap pre-cast bridges also made from farm-brick and a 7km gravel road. The rest of the money is unaccounted for,” the applicants allege.
Udcorp and Kasukuwere’s ministry stand accused of using Chiganze as a storm trooper, The Airforce boss is accused of using torture including “water-boding” against his “captives”.
“An Air Commodore Chiganze has been at the centre of the operations of the first and second respondent where he would abuse his army position to assault and intimidate co-operatives into submission. He has previously abducted co-operators and punishing others by tying them on trees for a whole day only to untie them on going home as punishment but reports to police have been pointless as nothing was done,” said the applicants adding “everyone is gripped with fear of losing their land and money they have contributed”.
The co-operatives have, according to the papers, failed to access their funds after the ministry and Udcorp blocked their accounts with help from CBZ Bank.
“Our members reported blocked accounts and stolen funds which we learnt had been put on auto-transfer to Udcorp in connivance with CBZ.
“The actions of the first and second respondents are manifestly illegal and have no chance whatsoever of success in terms of any defence that it might want to advance. There is no legal basis that can be advanced by the first and second respondent to confiscate the land, funds and members of cooperatives without their consent,” the cooperatives said.
Nyoni has according to the court application become a sitting duck.
“On August 10th we went to our parent ministry but sensed that the minister (Nyoni) seemed to be losing control of the situation as she could not say what she was going to do. We realised that the co-operatives were going to be the losers and that the solution we expected from the government minister was not going to come,” the application alleges.