By Daniel Chigundu
Local Government Deputy Minister Marian Chombo has revealed that Econet Wireless Zimbabwe pulled out of the Cyclone Idai Housing project because they were denied ownership of the land that was to be used to build the houses.
Econet Wireless, arguably the leading mobile network service provider in Zimbabwe had undertaken to build about 500 housing units for Cyclone Idai victims, under its robust social responsibility program.
The company however shocked many people when it pulled out of the deal, a development that has seen victims continuing to live in tents.
Answering a question from Honourable Norman Markham who wanted to know why the blue-chip company turned its back on the victims, Chombo said the government was not happy with Econet’s demands.
She said the government feared that the telecoms company would end up charging people for the houses.
‘’Why Econet pulled out, we were shocked, but at the end just before they were supposed to hand over the houses; the time scale that we had agreed that they were going to hand-over the houses, there was a request from them that they wanted ownership of the land that they were going to build the houses on.
‘’If we had agreed, it comes back to what Honourable Temba Mliswa was saying that – we felt that if we give that land to Econet, that means the beneficiaries whom we are trying to assist might end up being charged more than what they were expecting. We expected them to pay nothing.
‘’If we had given that land to Econet for them to build for the beneficiaries, now they were going to be the owners and that means the victims were going to be on the receiving end. So, we did not want to take that chance. So, we just said, thank you very much, we agreed to part ways and we went on it alone,’’.
Efforts to get a comment from Econet Wireless proved difficult as the company’s public relations executive Fungai Mandiveyi requested questions but ended up ignoring follow up calls.
The questions were sent to Mandiveyi on the 13th of August 2021 and by the 22nd there was no answer and was ignoring our calls.