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Supa Mandiwanzira seeks exception to charges

by Staff reporter
09 Feb 2019 at 07:02hrs | Views
Former Information Communication Technology and Cyber Security Minister Supa Mandiwanzira, who is facing criminal abuse of office charges, has made an application for exception. He argued on Thursday that he did not act criminally when he engaged Megawatt Company to do consultancy work for NetOne.

Mandiwanzira submitted that NetOne Cellular (Pvt) Ltd was not a procurement entity which had to comply with State procurement regulations.

The Nyanga South Member of Parliament is facing two counts.

He is accused of engaging Megawatt Company to do consultancy work for NetOne without going to tender before directing NetOne to pay $5 million to the said company.

Mandiwanzira allegedly appointed his personal assistant, Tawanda Chinembiri, to the Postal and Telecommunications Regulatory Authority of Zimbabwe (Potraz) board without following laid procedures.

Mandiwanzira will plead to the second count after the determination of his application. He appeared before regional magistrate Mr Elijah Makomo and advocates Thembinkosi Magwaliba and Brian Hungwe instructed by Mr Selby Hwacha acted on his behalf.

In his application, Mandiwanzira said Megawatt was engaged on a pro bono basis.

"Because NetOne is not a procurement entity which was bound by the Procurement Act now repealed, it secured the services of Megawatt Energy which had introduced itself to the accused," said Mandiwanzira's lawyers.

"The engagement of Megawatt was on the basis that no payment would be made by the Government of Zimbabwe or NetOne for the services.

"The payment of $4 000 000 was a success based fee recoverable from Huawei Technologies if it was found to have overpriced. Megawatt successfully carried out the verification in terms of its contract with NetOne, resulting in the recovery of $30 000 000 which was credited to NetOne.

"Accused can be equated to a man who chases after a thief and recovers what would have been stolen, instead of being praised, he then gets arrested."

Mandiwanzira argued that he could not be charged for violating Government procurement procedures in respect of an entity which was not covered by the procurement laws.

"Statutory Instrument 160-2012 removed NetOne from the list of public enterprises that were deemed to be procuring entities," said his lawyers.

"Most importantly, as at the date on which the procurement is alleged to have taken place, that is February 2015, NetOne was not bound to follow the procurement procedures set out in the Act and its regulations.

"It could, therefore, procure services without going to tender. Assuming that the procurement regulations were applicable, the threshold which required going to tender was not met because the supply was going to be at no cost to NetOne."

The prosecution will respond to the application on Tuesday.

Source - the herald