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Blantyre City Council hits back at Mike Mlombwa

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Blantyre City Council (BCC) has disputed claims that it sold a plot to two potential developers saying it does not sell land but provides land for development.
The council has said it only collects development charges as contribution from the developers to the services provided on a piece of land such as access roads, water and electricity connections.
The clarification comes after business magnate, Mike Mlombwa, alleged that BCC offered to sell the same piece of land to two developers.
BCC Public Relations Manager, Anthony Kasunda, said in an interview that at no point did the council offer plot Blantyre Central 131D to two developers at the same time.
He said Mlombwa was allocated Blantyre East 57F under the same conditions that are given to all developers.
The conditions given to potential developers, according to Kasunda, are that payment of acceptance fee should be made within 10 days from the date of offer.
Other conditions are that payment of premium development charges be done within 90 days, annual ground rent be paid from the date of offer, development plans be submitted upon payment of full development charge and that development of the plot be within two years.
He further says noncompliance of any of the conditions result in withdrawal of the plot and deduction of 20 percent administrative fee from the development charge paid.
“In the case of Mr Mlombwa who was offered Blantyre East 57F on 19th January 2016, he did not pay acceptance fee within the stipulated 10 days period,” he said.
Kasunda said Mlombwa only paid K12.5 million out of K23, 265,000 on May 20 2016 after the expiry date.
“Since he had not paid the development charge in full, he could not submit development plans which also meant he could not commence developing the plot within the expected two-year period.
“It is, therefore, very surprising that somebody who has apparently failed to comply with almost all the offer conditions is crying foul over the action taken by the council to withdraw the plot and allocate to another potential developer,” Kasunda said.
“This should send a strong and clear message to the potential developers or those allocated land by the council that they risk similar action if they fail to pay development charges in full and commence developing the plots within the stipulated period,” he added.
Kasunda said BCC is surprised that an experienced businessman like Mlombwa could pay K12.5 million without seeing the plot.
“How do you pay such huge sums of money without seeing what you are paying for? Mr Mlombwa is also contradicting himself by saying he was not shown the boundaries of his plot while at the same time saying he was surprised to see some officials at the site. How did he know that the officials he saw were within the boundaries of his plot?” he queried.
He said the council is also disturbed with Mlombwa’s consistent attacks on foreign investors in the media.
“Of course, the council encourages indigenous Malawians to invest but this does not mean foreign investment should be ignored. No city or country can develop without foreign investment,” he said.
“Blantyre City Council had valid reasons to withdraw the plot from Mr Mlombwa and all procedures were followed. We are glad that he has decided to go to court and we urge him to do that with speed so that justice is done,” he said.
Kasunda said it was the wish of the council to ensure that there is no idle land in the city and that developers comply with the conditions in their offer letters.

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