Top Mutare, Rusape officials freed on bail in graft rap

MUTARE - Mutare town clerk Joshua Maligwa and Rusape housing director Laurence Mushayabasa, arrested for criminal abuse of office by Zimbabwe Anti-Corruption Commission (Zacc), have been freed on bail.

Maligwa, 46, who was represented by Ashely Mutungura and Mushayabasa, 48, who is being represented by Taurai Khupe, were not asked to plead when they appeared before magistrate Shane Kubonera yesterday.

They were freed on $300 bail each and remanded to January 26.

Maligwa and Mushayabasa were ordered to surrender their passports, continue residing at their present addresses and report every Friday at CID Mutare and Rusape respectively.

They are being charged with criminal abuse of duty as defined in Section 174 (1) (a) of the Criminal Law (Codification and Reform) Act chapter 9:23.

It is the State’s case that Maligwa committed the offences during his tenure as town secretary of Rusape Town Council (RTC) last year before he took up a job at Mutare City Council.

According to State papers, sometime in 2006, Raymond Marowa made an application on behalf of his company Opleves Investments (Pvt) Ltd to RTC for the purchase of land to construct a service station, motel and conferencing facilities.

On January 23, 2007, RTC, through the then town engineer L Mabvira responded to the application by offering Opleves Investments (Pvt) Ltd land to construct its projects.

On March 25, 2008, the company entered into a Memorandum of Agreement of sale with RTC for the purchase of industrial stand numbers 4350 and 4351 Wedza turn-off, Rusape measuring 10 000 m2  and 3 500 m2 respectively with Marowa representing the company in his capacity as the director in both instances.

On May 21, 2008 the company made a Real Time Gross Settlement (RTGS) payment of from its MBCA bank account into RTC land sales ZABG bank account as payment for the two stands.

On July 18, 2008, the company entered into another Memorandum of Agreement with RTC for the purchase of industrial stand 4352 again on Wedza turn-off after which they made a cash payment.

The stand, which measures 4 400 m2, was pegged and plans were made in the name of Rasole Oil (Pvt) Ltd a holding company for Opleves Investment (Pvt) Ltd in respect of the projects which the company intended to undertake at the site and were submitted to RTC.

After their approval, the company commenced construction of a service station which was, however, halted by the Department of Roads due to noncompliance with General Notice 466/2004 which prohibits new developments 70 metres either side of the Harare-Mutare Highway.

Marowa took this up with Maligwa and Mushayabasa who promised to rectify the mistake by moving the stands backwards from the road.

Sometime in 2015, the two, however, allegedly subdivided the same land that was allocated to Opleves into smaller units for commercial purposes contrary to council resolution FC07/07/15 dated July 30, 2015.

Om March 5, 2017, Maligwa allegedly advertised the sale of commercial stands on the subdivided piece of land and prospective buyers responded to the advert. They went on to sell the land to individuals and companies well knowing that the land belonged to Opleves.

Mushayabasa went on to allocate Maligwa stand number 7711 on Wedza turn-off Rusape measuring 1 331 m2 situated in the same subdivided land, the court heard.

As evidence, the State has copies of memorandum of agreement of Sale between RTC and Opleves Investments (Pvt) Ltd and a RTC letter confirming that stand numbers 4350, 4351 and 4352 measuring 10 000 square metres, 3 500 square metres and 4 400 square metres indeed no longer belong to council when the subdivisions and resales of the land were done.

Tirivanhu Mutyasira was prosecuting.

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