D-Day for ex-minister Mandiwanzira

BY DESMOND CHINGARANDE

A HARARE regional magistrate will today deliver ruling on an application for exception of charges filed by former Information Communication Technology and Cyber Security minister, Supa Mandiwanzira, who is facing criminal abuse of office charges.

Mandiwanzira is accused of allegedly handpicking a South African company, Megawatt, to offer consultancy service on an alleged overpriced contract between NetOne and Huawei Technologies.

The Zanu PF Nyanga South legislator is arguing that the work by Megawatt Technologies was on a pro-bono basis and in addition, NetOne itself was not a procurement entity in terms of the procurement laws of Zimbabwe.

Mandiwanzira argued that through his efforts, NetOne recovered $30 million from Huawei from an overpriced contract signed by then chief executive officer Reward Kangai, who is the State’s key witness.

The State, led by prosecutor Tapiwa Godzi, yesterday challenged the application for exception accusing Mandiwanzira’s lawyers, Thembi Magwaliba and Brian Hungwe, of trying to delay finalisation of the case.

“It is pertinent to observe that the application is not only misleading, but also bad at law. The accused person’s legal practitioners, in so asserting that NetOne (Pvt) Ltd is not a procurement entity, are ignorant of the law. The definition of a legal entity, which the counsels for the accused person are proffering, is certainly in the narrow sense, with no reference to other useful pieces of legislation. It is not clear whether this is deliberate or is just a mere misinterpretation of the law,” Godzi said.

Godzi insisted that NetOne was by February 15, 2015, a procuring entity.

However, the defence argued that Statutory Instrument 160/2012, on which the State’s objection hinged on, was actually repealed on February 4 2015 before Megawatt was engaged. Magwaliba argued that this effectively killed the State case.

“The charges being faced by the accused person are, in terms of the charge, alleged to have arisen on the 10th of February 2015,” he said.

“Thus, therefore, even if one were to agree with the State that in fact statutory instrument 160/12 was corrected by statutory instrument 177/12, as at the date when the charges are alleged to have arisen, on the 10th of February 2015, statutory instrument 160/12 had been repealed without substitution, on the 4th of February 2015. On this ground alone, the exception would still succeed. There was no longer any requirement for NetOne as at the 10th of February 2015 to comply with the Procurement Regulations.”

Mandiwanzira is accused of criminal abuse of office after he allegedly engaged the South African firm, Megawatt, to provide services to NetOne without going to tender. He is also accused of corruptly appointing his personal assistant, Tawanda Chinembiri to the Postal Telecommunications and Telecommunications Regulatory Authority of Zimbabwe board.

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