CCM-VIJANA project raises more questions Ex-PM Lowassa to chair crucial meeting on 12bn/- joint venture deal THISDAY REPORTER Dar es Salaam NEW questions are arising regarding the soundness of a multi-billion shilling, joint venture project in Dar es Salaam between the ruling Chama Cha Mapinduzi's youth wing (VIJANA) and a group of local private businessmen. THISDAY has learnt that the controversial, 12bn/- real estate deal between the CCM youth wing and two companies owned by the Patel family business franchise - Estim Construction Limited and MMI Steel Mills - is now expected to come up for official review at a high-level VIJANA meeting. The two companies are owned by prominent business tycoons Subhash and Ramanlal Patel. Former Prime Minister Edward Lowassa, who is the chairman of the VIJANA board of trustees, is scheduled to chair the crucial meeting sometime soon, in which it is understood that the project will be a leading item on the agenda. The proposed project involves the construction of a high-rise building next to the current VIJANA headquarters building along Morogoro Road in the city. Insiders say that under the terms of the joint venture agreement, the private investors were given 75 per cent ownership of the project, while the CCM youth wing remained with a mere 25 per cent stake, even though it is the owner of the actual property earmarked for development. As a VIJANA trustee, Lowassa is understood to have signed the initial agreement with the private investors along with former VIJANA secretary general Amos Makalla, who is now national treasurer of the main CCM party. Under the terms of the contract, the VIJANA headquarters building is to be renovated and incorporated in the adjacent real estate development project, according to informed sources. However, the sources say that local lawyers who have since been consulted on the matter, are now understood to be raising serious doubts with regard to the deal, and have even advised that the contract be fully reviewed. According to the sources, one clause in the contract gives the private investors limitless rights to the property, with the inclusion of the word ''forever'' which is said to be contrary to the Land Act of 1999. ''No one can have the right to occupy land forever in Tanzania. This country's laws clearly specify a period of between 33 to 99 years of land occupancy no more,'' said a source. Another controversial clause in the contract allegedly gives the private investors the right to use the title deed for the VIJANA-owned property as a mortgage for bank loans. ''How can private investors be given 75 per cent ownership of the project and yet use the title deed owned by VIJANA to get a substantial bank loan to develop the property?'' another source queried. Sources say the private investors claim they have so far already injected $5m (approx. 6bn/-) into the project, equivalent to almost 50 per cent of the total construction costs. The meeting of the VIJANA board of trustees was earlier scheduled to be held last week, but was postponed to another date that is yet to be announced. When contacted by THISDAY, the VIJANA national chairman, Emmanuel Nchimbi, declined to comment about the controversial project, and referred our queries to the youth wing's secretary general, who was unavailable yesterday. According to the project plans, a modern commercial building valued at around 12bn/- is to be built on the undeveloped plot number 1081/2, situated immediately behind the VIJANA headquarters building which is located on plot number 1081/1 in the same area.