Mandiwanzira seeks exception to graft charges

BY DESMOND CHINGARANDE

Former ICT minister Supa Collins Mandiwanzira yesterday filed an application for exception to the charges that he corruptly engaged a South African company, Megawatt to do consultancy work for NetOne without due process, arguing that the State-owned mobile operator was not a public enterprise and was not covered by procurement laws.

Mandiwanzira, who appeared before deputy chief magistrate Elijah Makomo was represented by advocates Thembinkosi Magwaliba and Brian Hungwe.

In his application, Mandiwanzira submitted that NetOne is not a ministry, department or other division of government, a statutory body or a local authority.

“NetOne was not a public enterprise in respect of which the procurement regulations or the Procurement Act applied as at February 15, 2015 when it is alleged that Megawatt was engaged. Accordingly, the accused person cannot be charged of violating government procurement procedures in respect of an entity which was not covered by the procurement laws,” Mandiwanzira submitted.

“Statutory instrument 160/2012 removed NetOne from the list of public enterprises that were deemed to be procuring entities. The accused person cannot be charged of having committed a criminal offence by engaging Megawatt Company without going to tender.”

The State represented by Michael Chakandida and Tapiwa Godzi asked the court for more time to respond to Mandiwanzira’s application. Chakandida will submit his response on February 12.

Mandiwanzira’s lawyers will then submit oral submissions responding to the State’s response on February 14.

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

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