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Mzuzu City Council irks councillors, residents

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By Mandy Pondani:

GONDWE — We offer the property for investment

Various stakeholders have expressed suspicion and dissatisfaction with a decision by cash-strapped Mzuzu City Council (MCC) to sell part of its commercial property in an effort to cushion for some of its recurrent expenditures.

Malawi News has learnt that council authorities are flouting procurement procedures in an effort to raise the much-needed finances.

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This has not gone down well with some of the newly elected councillors and residents of the city, with MCC’s political arm recommending a physical audit of the council’s property.

Our sources from the procurement department have confided in us, for instance, that some businesspersons have been allocated plots at Chinese garden after paying a maximum of just K5 million when the land’s actual value hovers around K10 million to K12 million.

“Indeed, the council is in financial crisis but shortcut sales are not the solution, we will end up losing property from which we would have made enough money if we were patient enough and followed proper procedures,” said our source.

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Recently, MCC also offered on sale a plot close to Taifa Market for K300 million, which, according to the city’s development plan, was meant for the construction of a state-of-the-art shopping mall.

Land close to St Peters Primary School before the Mzuzu Stadium, we have confirmed, has also been sold out.

But Deputy Mayor Gift Nyirenda has said they are committed to restoring sanity and public trust of the council such that they are verifying various reports of malpractices as they settle in their new portfolios.

“There are a number of crucial outstanding issues that need attention and that might be one of them, otherwise we are on track in providing checks and balances,” he said.

Asked on the suspicious property deals, MCC spokesperson Macdonald Gondwe shot down the reports saying decisions to offer such property to investors are reached at not only after a rigorous research but also in accordance with council development plans.

Gondwe then refuted reports that the proceeds from the sales are meant to cover for recurring expenses saying proceeds from such sales are usually used to open new plots to fit the council’s expansion drive.

He said the figures being mentioned by our informants are too low to cover salaries disclosing that the council’s monthly wage bill currently stands at K50 million.

“The council is, indeed, in financial hardships but this is a temporary situation, soon or later, these problems will no longer be there. Actually, we do not sell property because we are not in business, rather we offer to investors for development with aim of unlocking other opportunities,” Gondwe said.

He stressed that, by embarking on such ventures, MCC still makes gains through development, occupancy and scrutiny charges on top of the actual offer and city rates which investors remit to the council.

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