Harare City Council head of planning, Mrs Priscilla Charumbira, has been arrested on allegations of abuse of office conniving with some councillors, including former mayor Herbert Gomba, to change land use for open spaces and wetlands.
The arrest came as top council officials are being investigated over the sale to Metro Peech and Browne Wholesalers of land designated for recreation along Seke Road in the Sunningdale area, allegedly without going through the required re-zoning procedures.
The Police Anti-Corruption Unit (PACU), in conjunction with the Special Anti-Corruption Unit (SACU), yesterday picked up Charumbira for questioning as part of ongoing investigations.
Head of SACU, Mr Thabani Mpofu, confirmed the arrest, but referred all questions to national police spokesperson, Assistant Commissioner Paul Nyathi.
Asst Comm Nyathi said Charumbira had been arrested for illegal land deals.
“Yes, we can confirm that the head of planning for Harare City Council, Priscilla Charumbira, has been arrested over issues involving land barons and the illegal allocation of land in Harare,” he said.
“She is being implicated in the Metro Peech case where they converted the land in that area without approval from the ministry.”
Charumbira is likely to appear in court soon.
There have been a number of reports of land being rezoned, or wetlands being converted to building land, and of other decisions where legal procedures were allegedly not followed.
Charumbira is suspected to have abused her position by conniving with some councillors and city managers in changing land use for certain spaces without following laid down procedures under the Regional Town and Country Planning Act.
Already, over a dozen Harare City Council officials, including Gomba, human resources and former housing director Matthew Marara, the city’s town planner Samuel Nyabeze and surveyor Munyaradzi Bowa, have been arrested on a string of allegations that include criminal abuse of office and corruption.
Gomba, Charumbira and the director of works, Mr Zvenyika Chawatama, have also been accused of overseeing another alleged unprocedural allocation of a wetland for the construction of a library in Glen Norah by tampering with the initial layout plans.