Plumtree town council secretary Luthe quits after corruption charge

BULAWAYO – Corruption-accused Plumtree town council secretary Davies Dumezweni Luthe has resigned.

In a hand-written letter dated April 26, Luthe did not state reasons for resigning his job.

“I hereby tender my resignation from council employment with effect from April 30, 2022. I wish to thank the council for the cooperation and support it has given me for over two decades,” he wrote.

Luthe is currently out on bail following his arrest by the Zimbabwe Anti-Corruption Commission on allegations of fraudulently selling council stands valued at more than US$1.8 million.

Luthe was in 2019 suspended for allegedly issuing 61 residential stands to local businessman Charles Moyo, who is based in South Africa, without following proper procedures, but was later reinstated.

The 58-year-old, of Hebron Township in the border town, faces one count of criminal abuse of duty as a public officer.

Luthe denies the charges, arguing that he acted under the guidance of councillors.

“As Plumtree town secretary, generally, I operate through council resolutions and other directives as given by the council chairperson. The stands in question were sold during the hyper inflationary period between 2007 and 2009 and it was done through a council resolution, which I implemented,” he said in an affidavit accompanying his bail application at the High Court.

“Due to the deterioration in the value of money as a result of hyper-inflation at the time, council resolved to enter into a barter trade agreement in order to salvage value of the stands.”

Luthe argued that he had to initiate strategies that would help council to retain some value.

“Later on, after dollarisation resulted in an improvement in the economy, some people within and outside council started complaining about the real value of what council had got from the barter trade deal. Over the years, successive councillors have talked and expressed their dissatisfaction on the issue and I had to write a report,” he said.

Luthe said he never did anything outside the directives of councillors. He argued that he never benefited from the transaction and only acted in the interests of council.

According to court papers, it was stated that between June 2007 and May 2009, Luthe undervalued three pieces of land offered to Moyo to build a funeral parlour, lodge and shopping mall. He then issued offer letters for the three properties, each stipulating the value of the concerned property together with other administrative ancillary charges.

In terms of the letters, Moyo was required to develop the three stands within 18 months from the date of offer.  Luthe is alleged to have made a unilateral decision and entered into a personal agreement with Moyo.

A council meeting was accordingly held to incorporate Luthe’s decision for the purpose of coming up with a council resolution in order to conceal his underhand dealings. Luthe further decided to go to South Africa to visit Moyo with a delegation from Plumtree town council on the pretext that they were looking for investors.

Upon their return from South Africa, Luthe came up with the barter trade concept purporting that it was agreed with Moyo while they were in the neighbouring country. Terms of the barter trade were not explained in court papers but prosecutors say there were no supporting documents for the deal.

Prosecutors say when Luthe initially offered the three stands, there was no barter trade involved, but the terms of the agreement were later changed for the purposes of corruptly benefiting and showing favour to Moyo.

The matter came to light after Moyo sued the council for failing to honour the barter deal whereby council was supposed to allocate him 61 low density stands. Prosecutors say there was no official agreement signed between council and Moyo.

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