Munyaradzi Musiiwa, Midlands Correspondent 

FORMER Midlands Provincial Affairs Minister Jason Machaya and Midlands provincial planning officer, Chaisayanyerwa Chibururu who unlawfully allocated residential stands in Gokwe town, have been sentenced to 48 months each after being convicted for criminal abuse of office charges.

Machaya (68) and Chibururu (50) had allocated 17 799 stands to land developers, who in turn gave them 1 791 stands worth more than US$900 000, were convicted by Gwanda provincial magistrate Ms Charity Maphosa sitting at the Gweru magistrate courts.

Machaya and Chibururu who had pleaded not guilty, were however, after a full trial found guilty and Ms Maphosa sentenced the two to 48 months each.

The magistrate however, suspended 18 months on each sentence on condition of good behaviour leaving them with an effective 30 months each.

In passing the sentence, Ms Maphosa said the sentence was befitting and would send a message to the society that the justice system was not catching and releasing perpetrators of corruption.

It was the State’s case that between 2011 and 2017 Machaya used his official powers to acquire 1 000 residential stands that were available in Mapfungautsi suburb of Gokwe town.

This was a third of the 3 000 stands available.

The court heard that the area is under Gokwe Town Council Administration and Machaya’s conduct was contrary to Government policy which authorises the Local Government Ministry to acquire only 10 percent of residential stands.

It was said that due to Machaya’s conduct, Gokwe Town Council lost revenue in respect of 700 stands.

Machaya reportedly further imposed a land developer, Striations World Marketing Property Developers to service and sell stands without following proper tender procedures.

According to State papers, in 2013, Machaya made verbal demands to Gokwe Town Council to release 1 000 stands as opposed to written requests made by the Local Government Ministry.

Chibururu working in cahoots with Machaya drew plans before the stands were allocated to private land developers.

Prosecutor Mr Garudzo Ziyaduma represented the State.