BY NOKUTHABA DLAMINI
Victoria Falls City Council town clerk Ronnie Dube has vowed that he will not resign over corruption allegations levelled against the local authority’s management and councillors, arguing that he is yet to be proven guilty of any offence.
Dube has been in the eye of a storm since the arrest of Victoria Falls mayor Somvelo Dhlamini early this month on allegations of fraud emanating from the acquisition of a housing stand from the local authority.
Dhlamini was arrested shortly after a group of war veterans and members of the Hwange Residents Association raided the town clerk’s office and force marched him out
The group said they wanted Dube to step aside to allow for investigations into allegations of corruption levelled against him to be concluded first.
A fortnight ago war veterans from Matabeleland North convened a meeting that was attended by over 300 residents to discuss the corruption allegations against the local authority.
Victoria Falls Combined Residents Association executive member Trymore Ndolo told the meeting that they had information allegedly showing how Dube and some councillors ‘corruptly’ sold commercial prime land known as Stand Number 8300.
Ndolo said the stand, which was earmarked for a water, hygiene and sanitation project, was sold for US$4 million instead of US$14 million that was agreed to by a full council meeting.
He claimed that councillors and Dube shared US$400 000 that was paid as a bribe by the lowest bidder for the stand.
The town clerk, however, said he will wait for ongoing investigations by various agencies to be completed before he could speak about the allegations.
“I have nothing really to say, but I will not be forced to resign because people have said things and judged me for corruption,” he told VicFalsLive in an exclusive interview.
“All I can say for now is I am watching the space because all these allegations have prompted various legal instruments to be put by central government, the police Zimbabwe Anti-Corruption Commission (ZACC) and a ministry of Local Government investigation team.
“So let it be, let them come and let’s watch the space.
“For all those allegations I will only be able to fully comment after all the investigations have been completed, but on the calibre of councillors, that is not my call.
“It the same people who are complaining that voted for them and the good thing is that we are having elections next year.
“So they should start choosing councillors that would stand for their calls.”
Dube’s relationship with councillors has been deteriorating over the corruption allegations and before his arrest, Dhlamini was accused of organising the group that raided the town clerk’s office.
The mayor had unsuccessfully tried to suspend the town clerk over the same corruption allegations.
Two days after Dube was locked out of his office, the tables turned against Dhlamini as he was whisked away from his council offices by Zacc investigators to the regional court in Hwange where he was charged with fraud.
Court records alleged that “On the 15th of August 2022 and at Victoria Falls City Council offices the accused Somvelo Dhlamini, who is the mayor of the city council and in his capacity as such unlawfully and intentionally made a misrepresentation and purported to be Valentine Munyaradzi Maseko, who he had earlier on in 2003 purchased Stand 1139 by making an application using the name Valentine Munyaradzi Maseko to Victoria Falls City Council under the Wood Road Housing Scheme upon which the council offered him stand number 1771 Wood Road which needed a deposit of US$25 000.”
It was alleged that Dhlamini paid US$10 000 and the balance was supposed to be paid within five days, but he failed to settle the debt and paid $7 500 000 instead.
The mayor was denied bail and is detained in Hwange awaiting trial.
He made a routine appearance in court on Monday and was further detained until early next month as the investigating officers said they still needed more time.
The power struggles between the mayor and the town clerk have been raging on for some time amid charges by residents that corruption has paralysed service delivery in the resort city.
Victoria Falls ratepayers have been boycotting the city council’s 2023 budget consultation meetings demanding answers over various allegations of corruption and Dube said the stand-off will have far reaching effects on the local authority’s operations.
“This has had a negative impact, as you see that we are struggling to finish the budget (formulation process),” he said.
“People started boycotting the consultative meetings and naturally it’s got a demoralising effect on the management of council affairs and some council process subsidiary to how government operates.
“I think this year we will be found wanting as we won’t be able to submit our budget on time and the same people who are disrupting these processes will be the same ones crying next year that there is poor service delivery because we would’ve not been allocated what we should be because of the delays that have been taking place.”
Last week, the Douglas Mwonzora-led MDC Alliance, which controls Victoria Falls City Council, said its councillors that are being accused of being corrupt were victims of political machinations.
Police Hunt For A Nkayi Murder Fugitive
BY STAFF REPORTER
A Nkayi man is reportedly on the run after allegedly assaulting a fellow villager with an unknown object on the head on New Year’s Day.
Police have identified the fugitive at Joinisa Tshuma from Dabe village who is being sought for a murder charge.
“ZRP is appealing for information which may lead to the arrest of Joinisa Tshuma who is being sought in connection with a case of murder in which Mcebisi Moyo died on 07/01/24,” police appealed.
“The suspect allegedly assaulted the victim on the head with an unknown object near a bush in Dabe Village, Nkayi on 01/01/24 before he fled the scene.”
According to police, the victim sustained some head injuries and he was admitted at Nkayi District Hospital where he succumbed to the injuries.
Meanwhile, Police in Machipisa are also investigating a case of murder which occurred on Wednesday, in which a yet to be identified male adult approximately aged 30 years who was wearing a yellow t-shirt, black trousers, black gum boots and a black cap, was found lying dead with a stab wound on the back near Mapuranga Transport Service Garage in Harare.
Police are also appealing to the public with information surrounding the incident.
“Anyone with information to report at any nearest Police Station.”
Full ZRP Statement on Armed Robberies Raiding Elite Schools
As the schools open, parents and guardians are in the process of paying school fees, levies and other related school costs, for their children.
School authorities are therefore urged to deposit all monies at financial institutions to curb armed robbery cases.
The issue of collecting cash by school authorities at schools should be reconsidered given the recent armed robbery cases.
The Police has recorded armed robbery cases in Bulawayo and Chinhoyi in which schools are being targeted.
In one of the cases, unknown suspects pounced at George Silundika High School at corner George Silundika Street and Third Avenue, Bulawayo on 06th January 2024, where they stole US$17 280.00 cash which was in a cash box.
In another case which occurred at Lomagundi College, Chinhoyi on 09th January 2024, 12 unknown suspects attacked security guards before stealing an undisclosed amount of cash, a Mazda Tribute motor vehicle, cellphones and laptops, among other valuables.
School authorities are urged to step up security measures at schools and employ guards from reputable security service providers who constantly monitor and review deployments.
Above all, school authorities should install CCTV at points of entry and administration offices.
The Zimbabwe Republic Police is concerned that some of these robbery cases are resulting from leakage of information.
Members of the public are warned that those who provide inside information to robbery syndicates will be arrested.
Police crack teams are firm on the ground and will pounce on armed robbery syndicates for the law to take its course in earnest.
ARTUZ condemns government for opening of school amid Cholera outbreak
BY NOKUTHABA DLAMINI
The Amalgamated Rural Teachers Union of Zimbabwe (ARTUZ) has condemned the government’s decision to reopen schools due to the cholera outbreak wreaking havoc in most parts of the country, labeling the move reckless and disregarding the pressing concerns raised by parents and teachers.
Statistics released by the Ministry of Health and Child Care last week showed since the outbreak of cholera, Zimbabwe has recorded 15 137 suspected cholera cases, 1 759 confirmed cases, 14 578 recoveries, 67 confirmed deaths and 266 suspected deaths.
“We vehemently condemn the government’s reckless decision to open schools amidst the widespread cholera outbreak, completely disregarding the pressing concerns raised by parents and teachers,” reads the statement.
“We demand that the government immediately mobilize substantial resources to ensure the safe reopening of schools because our children deserve nothing less than a secure and conducive learning environment.
“It is the duty of the government to provide sanitary solutions and ensure the safety and well-being of our children.
The union also called on the government to consider an upward increment of teachers’ salaries, criticizing the government’s lack of engagement with educators, particularly regarding their ongoing demand for a US$1 260 salary.
“Also, it is utterly disappointing to witness such a hasty move without even bothering to engage with the educators who have been tirelessly advocating for a just salary of US$1260.
“The safety and welfare of our students and teachers should be the utmost priority, but it seems that the government is callously neglecting this responsibility.
“It is high time for the government to prioritize the well-being of our education system and take meaningful action to address the urgent needs of our dedicated teachers. ”
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