HARARE – Former Harare mayor Herbert Gomba denied any role in the sale of a controversial Mt Pleasant golf course stand worth US$2.3 million as his trial got underway on Wednesday.
The ward 27 councillor, who is facing criminal abuse of office charges, is jointly charged with suspended town clerk Hosea Chisango, finance director Stanley Ndemera and Charles Kandemiri.
Chisango, Ndemera and Kandemiri also entered not guilty pleas.
Gomba argues, in his defence, that there are relevant departments which deal with the sale of land in the council and the mayor has no role in those decisions.
“The sale was conducted by the relevant and responsible departments in the council and approved by both the finance and development committee and the full council. Gomba will tell the court that he did not instruct or communicate with any employee of the council or Mr Luckson Mukunguma to entertain Mavis Madzivanzira and Pauline Gutsa,” said his lawyer Harrison Nkomo who is being assisted by Garikai Mhishi.
Nkomo also told the court that the suspects’ duties and roles did not allow them to meet and plan together before a sale, neither do those roles intersect.
“He will show that he never, in the exercise of his duties as a mayor, acted contrary or inconsistently with any of his duties as provided for in his functions,” Nkomo said.
Gomba said as mayor, he was not involved in administrative issues pertaining to offering and sale of land. He said his duty was only to sign the agreement of sale upon sight of the council resolution.
“In any event, Mr Mukunguma does not have the right and powers to convene and hold such meetings. Councillors are invited to such meetings through a notice issued by the chamber secretary.”
Gomba also the meeting in which the sale was concluded was chaired by his deputy as he was out of Harare.
The prosecution says sometime in August 2019, Gomba unlawfully used his position as mayor to offer stand number 402 Vainona Township, Harare, for sale to Hardspec Investments (Pvt) Ltd.
The company was being represented by Mavis Madzivanzira and Pauline Gutsa.
The state alleges that Gomba unlawfully instructed council officials, including Ndemera, who was acting finance director, to go and meet Mandzivanzira and Gutsa so that they could be shown the portion of stand 402 Vainona, Harare, which they wanted to buy.
Gomba allegedly told Ndemera to prepare a report recommending the outright sale of the stand.
The sale was approved by the full council of September 5, 2019, yet the sale to Hardspec Investments Pvt Ltd had allegedly been concluded the previous day.
The stand was sold for Z$23,923,340 yet Mt Pleasant Sports Club was quoted US$2.3 million for the same stand.
Gomba will tell the court that he does not know Mandzivanzira and Gutsa and has never interacted with them.
Nine witnesses are lined up to testify against the four.
The trial continues on Thursday with three witnesses taking the stand.
Witness Mabhaudhi prosecuted.