Residents push to stop Walter Magaya project


Brenna Matendere

Harare—The Chitungwiza Residents Trust (CHITREST) has filed an urgent High Court application seeking an interdict to restrain a company owned by Pentecostal leader, Walter Magaya, from undertaking any projects within the city without approval from the municipality.

The development follows reports gathered by the residents that the company, Wistmer Investments, was pushing to roll out a comprehensive 10-year development plan that envisions a “smart and green city” for Chitungwiza.

The deal was hammered out between the company and central government, and excluded the Chitungwiza local authority.

In the application filed on 25 June at the High Court in Harare, CHITREST is the first applicant and its director, Alice Kuvheya, the second applicant.

Magaya’s company, Wistmer Investments (Pvt) (Ltd) is cited as the respondent.

Innocent Simba Nderere of Scanlen and Holderness Legal Practitioners who is representing the applicants said they were waiting for Wistmer to submit its response at the High Court.

“We filed the application this week and we gave the respondent 10 days to respond to our application. Basically, we want the High Court to stop the company from starting any project or development initiatives in Chitungwiza without approval from the…municipality,” he said.

The applicants note: “This is an application for an interdict or an order to restrain the respondent, as well as any individuals acting on its behalf, from undertaking any projects or development initiatives within Chitungwiza without following the due process and obtaining the necessary approvals from the Chitungwiza municipality.”

CHITREST said, by seeking the order against Wistmer, it was acting in the public interest and in line with Section 85(1) of the constitution that empowers any bona fide person who feels a fundamental right is being infringed to approach the courts for redress.

In its application, CHITREST noted that the Chitungwiza municipality rejected Magaya’s proposal for the master plan last April.

The respondent had committed to fund the entire process of preparing the Chitungwiza master plan, which entails providing resources to a team of technical experts involved in the planned “smart city” project.

All 33 councillors at the municipality rejected the proposal because it felt that the Memorandum of Agreement terms were unfavorable to Chitungwiza.

“I wish to record that, despite the aforementioned circumstances, the respondent persisted in carrying out developments within Chitungwiza without adhering to the necessary procedures or obtaining approval from Chitungwiza Municipality,” states Kuvheya in her affidavit.

She also accused the respondent of setting up an aquifer project in Jonasi Village in Seke earlier, again without council approval.

The applicants maintain that the proposed master plan would environmental damage, disruption of existing infrastructure and potential violations of local regulations.

They are of the view that halting the proposed master plan is the only effective remedy to forestall the possible harm that the project would bring.

The Local Government ministry has for years interfered with the operations of mostly opposition-run councils to advance the interests of the ruling Zanu PF at the expense of public welfare.

Such interference includes the imposition of the Geo Pomona waste-to-energy project on the City of Harare.

Government wrested the council-owned Pomona dumpsite near Borrowdale and handed it over to Geo Pomona Waste Management that is fronted by Dilesh Nguwaya.

Nguwaya was named in a Covid-19 procurement scandal that also led to the expulsion of then Health minister, Obadiah Moyo.

He has no history in waste management.

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