Chitown manager convicted of corruption in Sikhala deal
Senior Court Reporter
COURTS should show society that Zimbabwe is committed to United Nations anti-corruption convention it signed in October 2003 and that the country is serious in fighting graft by imposing heavy punishments on people convicted of such crimes, the State has said.
The State led by Mrs Tendai Shonhai and Mr Tafara Chirambira said people convicted of corruption related offences, especially public officers should face the music and courts must impose deterrent sentence upon conviction.
He said this in his aggravating submissions after a Chitungwiza Municipality works manager, Emmanuel Mushata, was convicted of illegally allocating a piece of land at Zengeza 2 Shopping Centre to Zengeza West legislator, Job Sikhala, who said wanted to build a people’s market sometime in 2019.
Sikhala is alleged to have used Constituency Development Funds (CDF), which the State said was acquired after misrepresenting information to Parliament, to develop the 3 000 square-metre piece of land.
Mushata was found guilty of criminal abuse of duty as a public officer.
He was convicted after full trial.
“The offence has a possible imprisonment of 10 years,” said Mr Chirambira.
“We invoke the court to take judicious notice that corruption cases have become prevalent and come with serious need to inform the society to shun such offences.
“Be that as it may, we also want to remind the court that Zimbabwe is a signatory to the United Nations Convention to Anti-Corruption signed during the United Nations General Assembly in October 2003 where Zimbabwe was the eleventh signatory.
“The convention was signed by member States who have taken upon themselves another level of seriousness in fighting corruption.
“The State will not pray for a fine, but a custodial sentence,” he said.
Mr Chirambira said a fine or community service would trivialise the offence he was convicted of.
In mitigation, Mushata, through lawyer Mr Obey Shava, had asked for leniency saying he was a first offender.
Mushata had denied the charges during trial saying he was instructed by his superior, Engineer David Duma, to sign the allocation letter to Sikhala on November 16, 2018
He also denied generating the allocation letter.
Circumstances leading to his conviction are that between November 2018 and January 2019, Mushata allocated an open space measuring approximately 3 000 square-metres Sikhala. Mushata then failed to follow the procedure for allocation of land by the council as provided for in terms of Section 152 of the Urban Councils Act, Chapter 29:15 which states that before selling, exchange, leasing, donating or disposing of any land owned by the council, a notice should be published in two issues of a newspaper and posted at the office of the council.
Disregarding the laid procedure, on November 16, 2018, Mushata wrote a letter to Parliament of Zimbabwe addressed to the Constituency Development Fund (CDF) Committee and falsely indicated that Chitungwiza Municipality had granted Zengeza West Constituency land for building a people’’s market at Zengeza 2 Shopping Centre.
Mushata signed the letter on behalf of the Director of Works, Eng Duma without his knowledge and went to approve a building plan submitted by Sikhala in respect of the open space when there was no offer letter, allocation letter, a lease agreement or an approved layout plan as required by council procedure.
The building plan was submitted to Parliament of Zimbabwe Sikhala resulting in the disbursement of part of Zengeza West Constituency Development Fund.
After the disbursement, Sikhala and members of the Zengeza West Constituency Development Fund (CDF) Committee started construction work.
Irked by the development, Chitungwiza Municipality stopped the construction after noticing that construction work was being done on an open space that the Municipality had not allocated to anyone.
Mushata is today expected to appear before regional magistrate Mrs feresi Chakanyuka for his sentence.