Housing cooperative accused of selling housing stands at Old Bulawayo

Concerns have been raised about the possible selling and allocation of land at Old Bulawayo, a designated heritage site, by the Bethel Housing Cooperative.

The cooperative scheme, however, denies any involvement in land sales, stating that they are awaiting government approval.

Old Bulawayo is a historical site located 20 km south of Bulawayo that reflects the heritage of the Ndebele people. The site was established by King Lobengula as his capital in 1870 after the death of his father King Mzilikazi in 1868.

In 1990, the National Museums and Monuments of Zimbabwe identified Old Bulawayo as a suitable educational and tourist centre and reconstructed it as a theme park in 1998. 

Unfortunately, a serious bush fire swept through the site in August 2010, destroying much of what had been rebuilt. Only the Interpretive Centre was unharmed, and efforts are underway to restore it.

However, concerned members of the public have questioned how the cooperative obtained permission to allocate stands in a protected area, claiming they knew of people who had paid US$300 towards the scheme.

However, officials denied selling stands at the heritage site but acknowledged that the government, whom they are working with, has indicated the cooperative will receive land at Sawadel Blocks, an area near the heritage site.

Secretary at Bethel Housing Cooperative, Simelweyinkosi Ncube, said the project was yet to be finalised as they awaited approval by the government.

“I know there is some distance that is measured or hectares specified in the deed which we must not step, ” Ncube said.

“This initiative started in 2015 and there is a promise that once our documentation is over, we are going to allocate stands to our members at a given land by the government. At the moment, we have not allocated stands to anyone. We have about 1 000 members though I haven’t updated the system in a while.”

Bethel Housing Cooperative Offices are located at Office 28 at the Flea Market on Fort Street and Fourth Avenue in Bulawayo.

Ncube said the cooperative operated within the dictates of a by-law that allowed them to register people.

“Everything we do is transparent. We have registration and administration fees that members pay and we work with J. Mqabuko Consortium where Bethel falls under,” she said.

Ncube said the registration fee for those who were interested in joining the cooperative is US$300 while the administration fee is US$700.

“We are not forcing people to pay the US$700 but we cut off the monthly fees, unlike other cooperatives. Our members suggested that we have one administrative fee, which they can pay  on their own terms and if they want,” she said.

The secretary noted that the project was “on the brink” of being finalised.

Chairman of Bethel Housing Cooperative, Wall Ncube, concurred everything was above board as they operated within the law.

“We are not land barons. There is a by-law for all cooperatives and that is what we use. This project is meant to benefit people from Bulawayo, Matabeleland North, Matabeleland South and Midlands in line with what the president said when he said ilizwe lakhiwa ngabanikazi balo (the country is developed by its own people) and that is important so let’s protect and defend our developments,” he said, noting there may be “vultures” who wanted to destabilise the scheme.

Vice Chair of Bethel Housing Cooperative, Nkosana Mazimuka suggested that perhaps there may be an individual or individuals or even organisations corruptly using their name to sell stans to unsuspecting members of the public.

“Police must be informed about this because that is criminal. We can’t protect criminals,” he said.

The secretary also added that someone had once sent her a screenshot of a Facebook account of one Bethel housing cooperative yet the organisation was not on any social media platform.


“We don’t have any fliers as we are waiting for our project to kick off. We have submitted documents and we are still waiting. We are not on social media platforms at the moment as the project is rolling. Once finalised, we will go on rado and go public to say we have so many stands. At the moment people are just registering to be members of Bethel Housing cooperative,” Ncube said.

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