By Matabeleland North Correspondent
VICTORIA Falls Mayor Somveli Dlamini has been charged with criminal abuse of office after he allegedly sold a housing stand in 2017 allocated to him by the local authority as part of his benefits as a councillor.
The Zimbabwe Anti-Corruption Commission (ZACC) arrested Dlamini, who is MDC Alliance Councillor for ward 9, Saturday.
Dlamini, of 503 Acacia Road, Victoria Falls was not asked to plead to criminal abuse of office when he appeared before Lindiwe Maphosa at the Victoria Falls magistrates’ Court on Monday.
He was released on $1 500 bail and ordered to reside at his given address, report once weekly on Mondays at the Victoria Falls police station and not interfere with witnesses until finalisation of the case.
Allegations presented by Prosecutor Onias Nyathi are that Dlamini sold a housing stand for US$20 000 to Memory Buhle Sithole in violation of regulations in terms of Circular 12 of 2016 issued by the Ministry of Local Government that; “councillors may not sell a stand or cede lease during his or her term of office and title deeds may not be issued until development is complete.”
Dlamini was elected in 2013, the term in which the alleged stand was allocated to him.
He was re-elected in 2018 after which he became the mayor in a hotly contested internal election where his party superiors wanted ward 1 Councillor Margaret Varley to be mayor.
Dlamini kept his mayoral seat following the intervention of residents who stormed council offices and threatened to bar proceedings if fellow councillors elected a white mayor.
According to court papers, he was entitled to benefit from two stands, one being a housing stand in which he was supposed to pay 40 percent of the total price while the commercial stand was to be paid in full before his term lapsed in 2018.
“The accused was supposed to abide by the conditions set by the Ministry on disposal of stands acquired through assumption of term of office. On 20 September 2017, Dlamini sold the stand to Memory Buhle Sithole for US$20 000. During the time of sale he had not paid for the stand to the council,”said Nyathi.
He said Sithole paid for the stand directly to the council and gave the difference to Dlamini.
The stand was yet to be developed during the time of sale.
Court was told that the stand’s value was US$19 905 if sold to those on the waiting list, meaning to say Dlamini allegedly benefited US$12 038.
It is also alleged that Dlamini had corruptly acquired title deeds for the stand which Sithole used to apply for a loan from a local bank.
He is represented by Givemore Muvhiringi of Muvhiringi and Associates.