Leonard Ncube and Fairness Moyana, Chronicle Reporters
VICTORIA Falls Town Clerk Ronnie Dube, who was arrested by officers from the joint Police Anti-Corruption Unit (Pacu) and Special Anti-Corruption Unit (Sacu) on Wednesday, yesterday appeared in court charged with criminal abuse of duty as a public officer.
Allegations are that Dube (54) made council sell a commercial stand to a local tour operator, Shearwater Adventures in 2019 without following tender procedures.
Prosecutors allege that on September 28, 2017, Dube received a request to purchase additional land behind stands 1381, 1382, 1383, 1384, 1385, 1386 and 943 from Mr Ntokozo Mlilo, who is group human resources manager for Shearwater Adventures in Victoria Falls.
He allegedly caused for valuation of the stands by Backstone Properties who responded on February 11, 2019.
Prosecutors allege that Dube misrepresented to Victoria Falls ordinary full council meeting that one applicant Shearwater Adventures had expressed interest in commercial stand number 1782 yet there were other companies that had also expressed interest such as Wild Horizons.
Council adopted the report and resolved to offer the stand to Shearwater Adventures without following tender procedures.
It is alleged that council has a resolution passed on April 1, 2014 which required that commercial stands be sold on tender.
“Dube, in the exercise of his duties or function as such intentionally influenced council through his report to sell a commercial stand number 1782 without following tender procedures which was contrary or inconsistent with his duty as a public officer,” said the prosecutor in charge of Matabeleland North, Mrs Martha Cheda assisted by Ms Memory Munsaka.
Dube briefly appeared before Hwange magistrate Ms Gladmore Mushove where his defence lawyers Mr Matshobana Ncube of Ncube and Partners and Mrs Nomusa Khumalo of Mvhiringi and Partners made an application challenging his arrest and detention.
He was remanded in custody to today after prosecutors said they needed more time to respond to the application before the court can make a ruling.
“I would say in as much as the accused has rights, it would be unfair to rush the State to respond. I will allow the State to respond to the application tomorrow,” said the magistrate.
She was responding to an application by prosecutor Mrs Cheda who had requested more time to gather evidence from the investigating officers before making a response.
Dube was picked by two policemen from Hwange at the Victoria Falls City Council offices on Wednesday and was taken to Hwange where he was detained overnight before appearing in court.
Prior to his arrest, Dube was suspended without pay and benefits by the city’s mayor Councillor Somvelo Dlamini last week.
Clr Dlamini accused Dube of “corruption, gross incompetence, abuse of office and causing the local authority to lose revenue”.
Councillors, however, convened a special meeting on Monday and resolved that the suspension be revoked as it was null and void, adding that Dube should continue executing his duties.
The councillors said the mayor had failed to furnish them with the basis of the allegations and also making a lone decision without following procedure.
This is the second time Clr Dlamini has suspended Dube, the first being on August 4, 2020 when he wrote a suspension letter, similar to the one served last Wednesday and with similar allegations.
Clr Dlamini later withdrew the suspension through a letter dated August 27, 2020 after some councillors opposed the suspension.
Dube joined Victoria Falls City on December 1, 2016 replacing Mr Christopher Dube who had become Bulawayo Town Clerk.
The council renewed his contract in October last year. — @ncubeleon.