20 March 2019

Zimbabwe: High Court Rejects Mandiwanzira Bid to Freeze Trial

Former Information Communication Technology (ICT) minister Supa Mandiwanzira's court bid to have his criminal abuse of office charges scrapped fell through Wednesday when the high Court ruled trial should continue.

Mandiwanzira is accused of unlawfully engaging a South African company, Megawatt, to do consultancy work for government's telecomms firm, NetOne without going to tender.

The media businessman allegedly committed the offence during his time as a government minister.

Mandiwanzira had placed an application before the court seeking to have the charges scrapped while arguing it was not criminal to engage Megawatt.

Harare Regional magistrate, Elijah Makomo dismissed his application on grounds that the ex-minister did not dispute engaging the company.

Through his lawyer, Selby Hwacha who is instructing Advocate Thembinkosi Magwaliba and Advocate Brian Hungwe, Mandiwanzira then approached the High Court seeking review on Makomo's ruling.

But the High Court ruled that the magistrates' court ruling was valid.

"The application of the applicant is hereby dismissed. The applicant is hereby ordered to pay costs," ruled the High Court.

It is Mandiwanzira's defence that he did not err by engaging Megawatt.

The state alleges that he caused NetOne to pay $5 million to Megawatt, a South African based company for a consultancy job.

But the former minister argued he did what was expected of him and managed to recover $30 million for NetOne against the State's submissions he had interests in Megawatt.

Mandiwanzira is also being accused of illegally appointing his personal assistant into the Potraz board.

It is his argument that he did everything in good faith.

"My roles included superintending over the entire ministry and companies which fall under it," Mandiwanzira said.

"It was a mandate from the cabinet and the President that we as ministers must involve ourselves in the entities to ensure its performance was not a drain to the fiscus and corruption free.

"That I made a personal benefit is a fiction."

The Zanu PF legislator said the consultancy deal was never put to tender.

He said the company approached him and the job was done for free therefore he does not understand where the element of favour fits in.

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