Government officials responsible for the procurement of fuel in Zimbabwe, including the Secretary for Energy and Power Development, Justin Mupamhanga, were ignorant of the existence of a procurement procedure of buying fuel without going to tender provided one would later justify the actions in writing.
This was revealed on Tuesday by High Court judge Justice Chinembiri Bhunu, who acquitted Energy minister Elton Mangoma on charges of criminal abuse of duty as a public officer.
“It is amazing the Permanent Secretary (Mupamhanga) and the acting chief executive officer of Petro-Trade and other officers who were involved in the procurement of fuel were ignorant of the existent of a procedure of buying fuel without going to tender which was gazetted in 2004,” Justice Bhunu said.
The judge said all the State witnesses who gave evidence in court confirmed there was no fuel from their traditional suppliers in January this year when the country was faced with a critical shortage of diesel.
“When the accused (Mangoma) gave instructions for fuel to be purchased without going to tender, he was simply acting in accordance with the Procurement Act.
“It cannot be said the directive (by Mangoma) was meant for anything else other than to avert the national crisis,” the judge said and ruled the State had failed to prove a prima face case against Mangoma.
Justice Bhunu said when Mangoma authorised Petro-Trade to buy 5 000 000 litres of diesel from Nooa Petroleum it was common cause he issued that order to salvage the situation and there was no evidence he opted for a high price to show favour to anyone.
There were ululations in court after the judgment as Mangoma’s relatives and friends hugged each other in jubilation.
During an interview with journalists after his acquittal Mangoma blamed his subordinates’ ignorance of the law for his suffering and said the MDC-T operated differently from Zanu-PF.
“As a party, we serve the nation as opposed to Zanu-PF. I have subordinates who are mostly ignorant and it is difficult to work with one who does not understand.
“We are the only ones who are being persecuted, but I am glad this is not being done to our supporters but to the leadership of which we will soldier on,” Mangoma said before being driven away in his official vehicle.