Z’bar govt in public property lease scam - 2011-01-17
Zanzibar government has contravened laid down procedures in leasing out two of its Forodhani Beach buildings and a garden to a hotel group for 99 years, it has been confirmed.
Government sources told The Guardian the hotel group, Kempinski signed an agreement with the Isles government in October last year and paid $1.5m, equivalent to 2.1bn/-, an amount said to be a throw-away price for the prime area.
Efforts to speak to the hotel management proved futile. However, sources said the hotel is planning to construct a five star hotel at the site.
The leased area is categorized as a World Heritage Site by the United Nations Education Science and Culture Organization (UNESCO) which should be preserved.
A source close to UNESCO has told this paper that senior officials from the organisation’s headquarters were expected in Zanzibar later this month to assess whether the construction of the hotel will affect the heritage site.
Permanent Secretary in the Ministry of State, President’s Office responsible for Finance, Planning and Economy, Khamis Mussa confirmed the development saying the agreement will see the hotel group owning the site up to the year 3011.
He said his ministry had already directed all government departments operating from the building to seek alternative accommodation.
“Its true that the area around Forodhani beach has been leased to Kempinski hotel for a period of 99 years and all government departments who were accommodated in the building are supposed to move,” he said.
Government departments whose offices were at the place are Zanzibar Social Club, Government Registrar General, Office of Registrar General for Births and Trusteeship and Zanzibar Industrial Court.
According to Zanzibar Workers’ Union Secretary Khamis Mwinyi Mohamed the removal of the industrial court from the place has affected the hearing of all cases.
It has, however, been learnt that construction of the hotel would not start soon as Zanzibar Conservation Authority was yet to approve the plan by the hotel chain.
Chief Conservation Officer Issa Malani told The Guardian that the hotel had submitted two different plans and his department had not approved them.
Reports are that the Aga Khan Development Network, (AKDN) had already reached final stages of negotiations with the government to develop Forodhani area by building gardens and the first phase started last year.
Under the agreement the buildings were to be rehabilitated without destroying the architecture and left to be used by a local hotel owned by Aga Khan.
Under the agreement Aga Khan would have built a five-storey building for the government use which would have cost $4m, equivalent to about 5.6bn/- .
The Deputy Permanent Secretary in the Isles Ministry of Justice and Constitutional Affairs Abdulghani Msoma admitted that negotiations between Aga Khan and the government had reached final stages for the expansion of Serena Inn Hotel.
“I do not understand for sure how this plan was cancelled — we had gone far in the negotiations with the Aga Khan,” he said.
Zanzibar has of late reported increase in selling of government buildings, especially in Mji Mkongwe area as well as land grabbing.
Already, the seventh phase government has cancelled 26 title deeds of land given controversially to people in high circles.