The controversy surrounding land next to St Mary’s Secondary School in Lusaka’s Woodlands has taken a new twist with government telling Catholics that the land was meant for religious and educational purposes only and not construction of shopping malls.
Catholic Bishops have leased the 3.5 hectare land to Novare Plexus Property Group, a South African company and wants to building a shopping mall. But the PF government has revoked the initial approval for change of land use from agriculture to commercial which was granted to the South African company and the Catholic Church.
Minister of Local Government Vincent Mwale (MMD stalwart) accused the Catholic Bishops and their South African partners of providing false information on the location of the proposed shopping mall.
In a letter dated January 4, 2017 and addressed to Novare Plexus Property Group and copied to Lusaka City Council town clerk Alex Mwansa, the PF minister said the revocation is also based on the fact that the title of the land in question has a special condition which does not permit it to be used for any other purposes other than religious and education.
“Your newspaper cutting shows that the property is located at the junction of Lincoln (Chindo) and Mutende Road in Kabulonga neighbourhood when in actual fact the said property is in Woodlands.
Mwale has since ordered the developer against going ahead with the proposed development until concerns raised by key stakeholders are resolved and it resubmits its application with factual information.
This puts Catholic Bishops in a tricky position as they have already been paid for the leasing the land. The Bishops have been issuing statements supporting the construction of the mall.
It seems the PF government deliberately wants to embarrass the Catholic Church for refusing to support it during the last elections.
Very soon, the Bishops will be bowing to and kneeling before Edgar Lungu at State House in exchange for permission to construct the mall. Just wait and see.