The CEO of the Bukalo Village Council (BVC), Martin Limbo, who triggered a firestorm of criticism over his allocation of 64 plots to one businessman, has stuck to his guns, saying there was no wrongdoing.
Sources at Bukalo say the village is abuzz after it emerged that Limbo allocated the 64 plots on a lease agreement, despite the fact 1 800 individual applicants are on the waiting list, with some applicants having waited for over a year.
The businessman will apparently build houses for middle and high-income earners on the 64 plots, but the deal precipitated allegations of favouritism and suspected underhanded dealings, because of the speed at which the allocation was made.
Limbo, who denied any wrongdoing, dared those with information about possible bribery to report him to the police or to the Anti-Corruption Commission (ACC).
Sources at the village had insinuated that Limbo received cattle from some at the people that he recently recruited to the village council.
“I do not even have a kraal. Where am I keeping the cattle that I was bribed with? I am living on my small income, because my parents never taught me to steal,” he said in his defence.
Limbo argues that Esob Ahmed of Ela Construction outscored the other two companies who also applied, because Ahmed made provision to service the land at his own cost.
Although Ela Construction had initially only applied to lease 20 plots the figure was escalated to 64, as per a resolution taken by council in October, Limbo said in response to information that the village council was only informed about leasing 20 plots.
“He offered to service the land at his own cost and put up road networks and council will benefit on that person’s work. It’s not corruption,” Limbo charged.
He said the village council has its hands full dealing with investors, especially those keen to service land. “We are looking at investors and individuals who are ready to bring income and develop the town,” he said.
He said that council is eager to address the housing problem, hence would not sideline its residents. He said the inhabitants would be accommodated through the mass housing project, as well as the Shack Dwellers Federation project.
Limbo also claimed he was misquoted in yesterday’s article about the traditional authority of King Kisco Liswani III hindering the council’s planning. He told New Era the traditional authority is a vital stakeholder to the council. “In fact we will use them to our advantage. How do they become a hindrance if part of the council’s land is the traditional authority’s land?” he asked.
Similarly, Limbo says he is a very busy man, but finds time in his busy schedule to attend to the people’s queries. He said allegations that he is never in the office, or that his phone goes unanswered are false, although residents at the town insist this has been the case all along.
He added that his office is still based in Katima Mulilo, hence he may not always be at the office. However, “I even make time outside office hours to attend to queries,” the embattled CEO claimed.
On Wednesday New Era reported that the council had granted 64 plots to an individual, despite an estimated 1 800 residents having applied for land.
New Era, however, wanted to establish what the council intends to do about the 64 plot allocation, but the village council’s chairperson, Louis Matomola, could not be reached for comment as his cell phone was switched off.
New Era could thus not yet confirm whether the escalation from 20 to 64 plots was officially approved and also whether council would indeed approve the controversial lease allocation.