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Minister describes Ndola City Council US$200 million land scandal disastrous

Copperbelt Province Minister Elisha Matambo has described Ndola City Council’s (NCC) loss of 200 million dollars in a land scandal as a disaster.

 Mr. Matambo told journalists at a press briefing in Ndola that the NCC report of land wrangles in Dola hill area is a big scandal as there was no transparency in the joint venture between the council and Henan Guoji Limited Chinese Company.

He said according to the report the Chinese company approached NCC and agreed on a joint venture, where Ndola city council was supposed to provide land and Henan Guoji was to provide capital of 200 million dollars.

He added that as per agreement that was signed on 31 May, 2013 the joint venture resulted in a group of companies where Ndola City Council was supposed to have shares, and Henan Guoji Limited company was supposed to have 73 percent.

“Henan Guoji Company was also supposed to build houses, a shopping mall, a school, and a hospital ,” said Mr Matambo.

He said Ndola city council provided 160 hectares of land to Henan Guoji Limited Company, a few weeks later the land was reduced to 137 hectares because the minister of land wanted to sort the issue with the Zambia Environmental Management Agency (ZEMA).

He said the Henan Guoji Limited company was supposed to be transparent by depositing the 200 million United States dollars, but the company did not do so.

Matambo further said Henan Guoji Company limited was given a period of 30 days to start construction, but the period expired without resuming the works.

“Later after Henan Guoji failed to develop the area another agreement was signed to give back 77 hectors of land to Ndola city council and remained with 60 hectares without any payment.

 Henan Guoji Company later gave back 20 hectares to Ndola city council but no amount was paid to the council.

“Part of the land was paid to a law firm as a part of payment for the service it rendered. And that form of agreement is not in the report”, said Mr. Matambo .

He also disclosed that 2.5 hectares was given to one of the senior employees,” he said.

Mr Matambo added that his office will follow the matter until it ends adding that there must be transparency in the way land is allocated.

He appealed to Ndola residents who bought land from the company to come forward to the Copper belt Permanent Secretary to give information about what transpired, because no amount was paid to the council.

David Mwanza from Ndola resident Association Chairperson also appealed to the Copperbelt Minister to allow them to write a report about the information in their report.

“We feel the Council has left out some information in their report” said Mr. Mwanza.

Another Ndola Resident Association Secretary William Sitali called on Mr Matambo to stop the constructions that are underway until the issue is resolved.

He said if the Government does not do so they will take the law in their hands.

A week ago Copperbelt Minister Elisha Matambo gave a directive to the Ndola City Council to come up with a report on what had transpired concerning the said land in Dola hill.

The Minister, Ndola City Council and provincial land officer had last week visited the said land to assess what was happening on the ground.