Maligwa trial resumes
RUSAPE Council chairman, Alderman Amon Chawasarira has told the court that former town secretary, Joshua Maligwa acted behind the local authority when he allegedly repossessed land belonging to Opleeves Investments and sold it.
Alderman Chawasarira said this when the trial of Maligwa, now Mutare town clerk, who is facing charges of criminal abuse of office when he was heading Rusape resumed on Tuesday.
Maligwa (46), who is jointly charged with outgoing Rusape Town Council housing director, Laurence Mushayabasa (47) told the court through their lawyers, Mr Victor Chinzamba and Mr Taurai Khupe that they did not do anything wrong by repossessing land from Opleeves Investments, as the land had been fraudulently sold by Rusape Town Council when it belonged to Makoni Rural District Council.
Their lawyers also argued that it was not possible for the two to act alone without the involvement of then town treasurer, Mr Solomon Gabaza and former planner Never Besa.
Alderman Chawasarira told the court that a regular full council meeting he chaired on July 30, 2015 resolved that Opleeves stands be re-planned so that they became compliant with the 70 metres servitude. He added that he only came to know that Maligwa and Mushayabasa had subdivided and sold the stands when Opleves made a police report to the Zimbabwe Anti Corruption Commission (ZACC).
“I can confirm that I indeed chaired a regular full council meeting on July 30, 2015 where we resolved that Opleves stands be re-planned so that they were compliant with the 70 metre servitude rules. The resolution was not changing ownership of the land.
“For council to sell that land it means the offer given to Opleves was supposed to be withdrawn and Opleves was supposed to be notified and that was not done. My view is that it was not possible to repossess the stands because Opleves had already paid for them.
“I only came to know that Opleves stands were subdivided and sold to other people when this case arose and that is also when I was informed that the then town secretary (Maligwa) also bought a stand there. Accused one (Maligwa) who is the chief technocrat did not advise us that the land did not belong to us. He should have notified the policy makers about that and we would have discussed it.
“My vice chairman (Cllr Manyengavana) on November 3, 2016 chaired a regular full council meeting that resolved to change the stand from Industrial to Commercial use and again there was no resolution to change ownership,” explained Alderman Chawasarira.
Mr Mutyasira told the court that Maligwa and Mushayabasa violated section 74 (1) (a) of the Criminal Law Codification and Reform Act, Chapter 9,23 that makes it criminal for public officers to abuse their offices and duties.
He added Maligwa and Mushayabasa abused their duty when they defied a full council resolution and went on to subdivide Mr Raymond Marova of Opleves Investments three stands without the blessing of council and Maligwa also bought one of the subdivided stands.
“On July 30, 2015 a regular full council meeting noted that Opleves Investments industrial stands were within the 70 metres of the road servitudes contrary to General Notice 466/ 2004, which prohibits new developments along the Harare –Mutare highway within 70 metres from either sides of the road centre.
“In view of the General Notice Council through resolution FCO7/ 07/ 15 resolved to re-plan the stands belonging to Opleeves Investments so that they did not encroach into the 70 metres servitude.
“Maligwa acting in concert with Mushayabasa who was the town planner, subdivided the piece of land into smaller units for commercial purposes contrary to council resolution FC07/ 07/ 15 dated July 30, 2015.
“On March 5, 2017 Maligwa advertised the sale of commercial stands on the subdivided piece of land owned by Opleves Investments in The Sunday Mail and prospective buyers responded to the advert.
“Sometime in 2017 Mushayabasa acting in common purpose with Maligwa sold the subdivided piece of land to individuals and companies well knowing that the land belonged to Opleves Investments Pvt LTD.
“On March 30, 2017 Mushayabasa acting in concert with Maligwa allocated Maligwa commercial stand number 7711 at Wedza turn-off, Rusape measuring 1 331 square meters situated on the subdivided piece of land belonging to Opleeves Investments.
“Maligwa and Mushayabasa did not comply with full council resolution 07/ 07/ 15, which was their duty as public officers to do for the purpose of showing disfavour to Opleves Investments and favouring Maligwa by allocating him a commercial stand on a piece of land owned by Opleves Investments, said Mr Mutyasira.
The trial continues. Rusape Town Council vice chairman, Councillor Evaristo Manyengavana are expected to testify.