Freeman Razemba Crime Reporter
The Zimbabwe Anti-Corruption Commission (ZACC) has arrested Zvimba Rural District Council (ZRDC) chief executive officer Peter Hlohla on allegations of benefiting from illicit land deals that prejudiced the council of millions of dollars.
Last year, there were reports that some senior Government officials were reportedly benefiting from illicit land deals that prejudiced ZRDC, which was already reeling under a $2,4 million tax debt.
ZACC sources yesterday confirmed Mr Hlohla’s arrest.
“He has been arrested and he is detained at Marbelreign Police Station,” said the ZACC source.
He is expected to appear in court tomorrow. Although the details were still sketchy, The Herald understands that the scam included awarding tenders to companies for the development of Sandton suburb in Mt Hampden without going to tender.
He is also accused of undervaluing stands sold to cronies. Some of the beneficiaries of the alleged land deals include former principal director of State residences in the President’s Office Mr Innocent Dzapasi Tizora, former Minister of Mines and Mining Development Minister Walter Chidhakwa and former Public Service Minister Patrick Zhuwao.
A shelf company, Spincraft, was also allegedly created and allocated land at Rainham Farm measuring 2,6 hectares that was then subdivided at the cost of council and re-allocated without charging cession fees under the instruction of Mr Hlohla.
Mr Hlohla also allegedly made costly unilateral decisions without council approval. He travelled to Switzerland without council permission.
The ZRDC was also sitting on a $2,4 million tax debt, a figure that was arrived at after negotiations with the Zimbabwe Revenue Authority, down from $7,5 million after Mr Hlohla engaged a tax consultancy firm, Misfort Tax Consultancy.
“The CEO was responsible for billing of Rainham, Murombedzi, Banket and Sandton, which created a huge debt in terms of penalties and this burden will be passed to ratepayers” reads documents in our possession.
Mr Hlohla allegedly awarded a contract without going to tender for the subdivision of plots in Rainham.
“Upon repossession, the said plots were then supposed to be allocated, if the process was above board, following a council waiting list, which was never done,” the documents show.
“In some instances, he went on to downsize the plots, as a way of clearing arrears without due authority of a resolution instructing or guiding him on the computation.
“By billing of Rainham as a planner, which was a prerogative of the finance department, Mr Hlahlo went on to create a debt by billing Zimra exclusive of value-added tax, thereby, creating a tax obligation in both Sandton and Rainham exceeding $1 million and penalties were further added for non-remittances as a result of his actions.”
Mr Hlohla allegedly agreed to over-priced compensation rates for Rainham Abattoir in Nyabira, prejudicing ZRDC of millions of dollars.