There is chaos in Bulawayo after controversial Prophetic Healing and Deliverance church leader, Walter Magaya randomly violated 90 of his workers who embarked on a strike at his Douglasdale housing project last week and fired them.
People who had paid their deposits for the properties have been left in the dark after Magaya struck out against the workers. He indicated that he is willing to refund people being mobilised to demand their deposits, the state media says.
The striking workers — all of them builders — were finally paid but lost their jobs due to the industrial action which the church said was triggered by cash challenges prevailing in the country.
Magaya launched the housing project in August last year that will see 5 000 housing units ranging between 400 square metres and 2 000 square metres being built in the city.
The housing construction programme is part of a project that will see 90 000 housing units also being built in Harare, Mutare and the Midlands provinces, with the first 5 000 units being built in Bulawayo.
Speaking to the state media, Magaya’s spokesperson, Senior Overseer Admire Mango, confirmed that they delayed paying salaries due to cash challenges prevailing in the country, but they had finally met their obligations.
He also said they have since parted ways with those who went on strike. “Yes we deposited the money into their accounts and we told them not to report for work because they failed to understand us in the few weeks where we delayed payment due to this cash crisis. Their decision to strike shows that they failed to trust us. We are not here to make people work for nothing, certainly not after using our resources to willingly train them for free. We don’t do that,” Senior Overseer Mango said.
So far a perimeter wall has been erected around the land, and land surveying as well as pegging of the stands has been completed and road works have started.
At the project’s ground-breaking ceremony in August last year, Magaya said their “partners” would benefit from the project that was set to start in October the same year.
Home seekers were required to pay $1 000 deposit for the stands that were going for $4 000 with the final amount varying as owners embarked on a rent-to-buy programme for the completed houses.
The project was scheduled to be completed in seven months through Magaya’s construction company, Planet Africa.
Delays to meet the target have seen some people asking to be refunded their monies.
“We’re already working closely with the Bulawayo City Council and other players to make sure that everything is above board and we’re targeting the first week of October.
“We don’t have any problem with refunding anyone his/her money. We are willing and open to refund anyone feeling cheated or disgruntled. Due to economic challenges and the cash crisis, we are facing challenges here and there, delaying our estimated plans.
“We can’t do short-cuts on construction as we want state of the art houses that go hand in hand with city council rules and regulations,” said Senior Overseer Mango.
“With the demand for stands and houses, we are not moved by those who have been mobilised to demand their deposits saying they were robbed. There are millions of people who are desperate for stands and yet we had given first preference to our partners.
“Remember, when the Man of God launched this project, he said we are redeeming the time that was lost to his congregants, so we need to do proper things. We don’t want to short-change people nor give them half done things, remember we are building houses.” – state media