18 June 2019

Zimbabwe: New Twist to Zesa Bigwigs' Case

THE lawyer representing former Zesa chief executive officer Joshua Chifamba last week cornered the investigation officer Energy Mundandishe into making concessions which are likely to affect the State case against his client and his two co-accused.

Chifamba, who is facing criminal abuse of office charges, is jointly being charged with former Minister of Energy and Power Development Elton Mangoma and Zesa Enterprises managing director Tererai Mutasa.

The trio allegedly entered into a technology transfer partnership with a South Korean company, Techpro Company Limited, for the manufacturing of switchgears without due process.

During cross-examination by Mr Admire Rubaya, Mundandishe from CID Commercial Crimes Division agreed that Zesa Enterprises (Pvt) Ltd was not a procuring entity listed in the procurement regulations as of the year 2011 when the technology transfer agreement between Zesa and Techpro South Korea was signed.

Mundandishe told the court that he had no evidence from the State Procurement Board (SPB) that a letter purportedly signed by former acting principal officer in the SPB Mr Cledywin Nyanhete contained directives from the real State Procurement Board led by the late Charles Kuwaza as envisaged by the provisions of Section 42 of the Procurement Act.

He was further squeezed into agreeing that Chifamba had actually complied with the provisions of the said PFMA because he had notified and sought approval of the deal from the Minister of Finance and Minister of Energy and Power Development Mangoma

Mr Rubaya went on to produce a newspaper cutting from a 2011 edition of the Chronicle in which the then Minister of State Enterprises and Parastatals Mr Gorden Moyo was quoted as saying the technology transfer agreement with TechPro had actually been approved by the Inter-Ministerial Committee on Commercialisation and Privatisation of Parastatals (IMCCPP).

Mundandishe admitted that the pages in the document he produced in court through State prosecutor Mr Zivanai Macharaga did not tally after it was put to him that he had produced a memorandum to the IMCCPP instead of the business proposal which had been recommended for approval by Chifamba and subsequently approved by Mangoma.

Mundandishe also admitted that he had not interviewed critical people from the Ministry of Energy and Power Development and the Ministry of State Enterprises and Parastatals who were involved in the negotiations of the terms of agreement.

Harare magistrate Mr Francis Mapfumo postponed the matter to June 27 for re-examination of Mundandishe by the State.

It is alleged that the trio entered into a technology transfer partnership with a South Korean company Techpro Company Limited for the manufacture of switch gears without due process.

The State is alleging that in 2010 Choi Young Jin of Techpro Company and Mangoma signed a technology transfer partnership for the manufacture of switchgears.

Mangoma allegedly instructed Mutasa to liaise with Techpro with a view of establishing the partnership.

The court heard that Mutasa wrote to the SPB seeking advice on the procedures to be followed in such partnerships.

He was advised to proceed with Section 49 of the repealed Procurement Regulations Act (Chapter 22:14).

Mutasa was further advised to seek assistance from State Enterprises Restructuring Agency (SERA) on how to proceed.

SERA advised Mutasa to prepare a memorandum for Mangoma to submit to the IMCCPP recommending the identification of a technical partner for the technological transfer through a competitive bidding process.

On receiving the proposal and bid documents for tender, Chifamba and Mangoma allegedly connived to bypass the IMCCP and the competitive bidding process in favour of Techpro Company.

Five years down the line, Techpro Company failed to execute the project despite receiving an initial payment of $850 000.

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