22 June 2018

Zimbabwe: Fraud Accused Maziwisa, Pambuka Claim Political Victimisation As Trial Opens

The fraud trial of Zanu PF legislator for Highfield, Psychology Maziwisa and business partner in former ZBC News anchor Oscar Pambuka commenced Thursday with the pair denying charges which they claim politically driven.

The two are accused of siphoning $12 000 from Zimbabwe Power Company (ZPC) under the disguise of performing public relations services for the parastatal.

They are alternatively facing two fraud counts.

Through their lawyer, Jonathan Samkange of Samkange and Venturas Legal Practitioners, the two denied the allegations arguing that they in fact got paid for work done.

"The accused will deny the charges because they indeed carried out the projects.

"They will insist that they were paid for a job which they did for the company and in addition, they previously did the same projects for the company and got paid.

"The charges they are facing have a political bearing considering that the first accused is a legislator for the ruling party," said the lawyer.

Appearing for the state, Michael Reza started by calling the first witness, Fadzai Chisveto who is ZPC public relations executive.

Chisveto confirmed that indeed the duo did some PR projects for their company.

"They did publicity campaigns on radio and television for ZPC ZIMASSET projects. We believed they were government agents since there was a directive from our superiors to grant the accused a contract," she said while giving her testimony.

Chisveto told court that the $12 600 which the two received was for work done in January and February 2016.

She said they failed to give the two an additional $36 000 for another project after their superiors told the department to wait a little longer as investigations against the two were being carried out.

The case was then remanded to June 23 for trial continuation.

When the trial started, Samkange unsuccessfully applied for the trial to stop awaiting the outcome in which former Energy minister, Samuel Undenge is being accused of abusing his office.

Undenge is being accused of handpicking Maziwisa and Pambuka to do PR work for ZPC without going to tender.

The presiding magistrate however ruled that Undenge's case had nothing to do with the case at hand.

She ruled that the trial should proceed since Maziwisa and his accomplice are answering to fraud charges while Undenge was up for criminal abuse of office.

According to court papers, Maziwisa and Pambuka are directors of public relations firm, Fruitful Communications, which was handpicked by Undenge.

ZPC is the complainant in this case.

Court heard the two were hired despite the fact that Zesa Holdings has a fully-fledged public relations department whose personnel are still on its payroll.

As a result, ZPC was allegedly prejudiced of $12 600 which was paid to the duo.

They landed in the dock after ZPC carried out investigations and discovered that nothing was infact done by way of promised services.

Prosecutors said ZPC could have suffered a prejudice of $36 000 for other projects purportedly carried out by the embattled pair.

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