Ex-Bulawayo deputy mayor Gift Banda in court for fraud

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By Bulawayo Correspondent

CONTROVERSIAL MDC legislator Gift Banda Thursday appeared before a Bulawayo magistrate facing a criminal abuse of duty offence he allegedly committed during his time as city deputy mayor.

Banda, who is also party chair for Bulawayo province, is accused of fraudulently processing a lease agreement for a piece of land under the name of an unregistered company owned by his daughter, Samantha.

Prosecuting, Nkathazo Dlodlo told court that the Njube-Lobengula MP acquired a stand measuring 3, 82 hectares on behalf of Entertainment Headquarters, a company reportedly owned by Samantha and another shareholder only identified in court papers as Simon Mambaza.

Between January 2014 and December 2015, it is further alleged, Banda connived with members of the council sub-committee to corruptly process a lease agreement for stand number 187964 Bulawayo Township on behalf of Entertainment Headquarters.

According to the state, the company never existed at the time of signing of the lease agreement.

Court further heard that Banda abused his position as deputy mayor to acquire the lease without going through laid down council‘s tender procedures.

“When Entertainment Headquarters corruptly obtained the lease, it was not yet registered with the Registrar of Companies,” Dlodlo told the court.

The state said the company was however registered a year later after it had already obtained the lease agreement.

Under Circular Number 3 of 2015, councillors are entitled to buy a residential stand at 40 percent discount on the purchase price on condition that they would not have been previously allocated a stand.

Magistrate Adelaide Mbeure granted Banda $100 bail and he is expected to be back in court on February 1 next year.

In 2017, Banda and former Ward 21 councillor, Reuben Matengu were fired from council by an independent tribunal set up by then Local Government Minister Saviour Kasukuwere for alleged gross misconduct and mismanagement.

The High Court however acquitted Banda of the alleged offence and ordered his reinstatement.