BY DESMOND CHINGARANDE
Former Transport deputy minister and Zimbabwe National Road Administration board chairman Michael Madanha was on Tuesday left speechless in court after dismissed finance director Simon Taranhike asked questions on several corrupt activities he was allegedly engaged in at the national road fund.
Madanha was testifying in a case in which Taranhike is accused of criminal abuse of office after he allegedly gave a Zimbabwe Broadcasting Corporation (ZBC) journalist 1 800 litres in fuel coupons.
Taranhike is denying the offence, saying it was Madanha who instructed him to give State journalists coupons.
But Madanha denied instructing Taranhike while under cross-examination.
Madanha later admitted to giving journalists coupons after presiding magistrate Hosea Mujaya asked him to explain on the issue.
“Your worship, sometimes we give journalists fuel coupons if the events are being carried outside Harare. I know of only two occasions, but the one in this matter I only knew of it in the media,” Madanha said.
Taranhike’s lawyer Rekai Maposa said Madanha was in the habit of terminating employee’s contracts who were potential witnesses in his alleged corrupt activities.
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When Madanha was asked to comment on 12 000 litres of diesel he took from Zinara while funding his political campaign against Tino Machakaire in Wedza South, he refused to comment.
The court heard that Madanha had refused to come to court to testify as a State witness. But the court later summoned him after Taranhike had finished testifying.
He was also asked about a security company allegedly owned by his friends and relatives which was allegedly contracted by Zinara recently without following tender procedures, but he refused to comment.
When Madanha was also asked about US$71 million which was reportedly looted from Zinara when he was a deputy minister and he again refused to comment.
The court heard that Madanha fired former finance director Precious Murove a week before he was summoned to appear at the Parliamentary Portfolio Committee on Public Finance to cover up the corruption.
Maposa alleged that Madanha intimidates everyone at Zinara because of his background as a soldier, but he denied the allegations.
However, Mujaya has asked the State to facilitate papers for him to grant an order to search for the owners of mobile phone numbers used to threaten Taranhike.
Taranhike had told court that he was receiving anonymous threatening calls, warning him against testifying against Madanha and Methylene Mujokoro who was acting Zinara chief executive officer.
Allegations are that between April 1 to 3 at Zinara’s Highlands offices, Taranhike allegedly abused the parastatal fuel facility and authorised the issuance of 1 800 litres of petrol (Redan Puma) coupons to a State journalist.
It is alleged Taranhike did not follow Zinara’s due procedures, thereby causing his employer to be prejudiced of fuel worth $6 354.
The prosecution alleged that he acted contrary to his duties by showing favour to the State media journalist.