Ex-Air Zim bosses' trial opens

HARARE - The trial of two ex-Air Zimbabwe (Private) Limited (Air Zimbabwe) bosses accused of acting inconsistently with their duties has begun at the Harare Magistrates’ Court.

Peter Samanga Chikumba, Air Zimbabwe’s  former acting chief executive officer and Grace Nyaradzai Pfumbidzayi, who is the airline’s former legal manager and company secretary, pleaded not guilty.

Charges against Chikumba and Pfumbidzayi arose last year over the appointment of Navistar Insurance Brokers (Private) Limited (Navistar).

The case centres around aviation insurance premiums.

The State alleges Navistar was appointed without following due process.

Two State witnesses, Pattison Mbiriri, the former permanent secretary in the ministry of Transport, Communication and Infrastructural Development and now the Energy permanent secretary and Nobert Machingauta, have so far testified in the trial, which continues today.

Admire Rubaya and Andrew Muvirimi are representing Chikumba and Pfumbidzayi respectively.

When the two appeared before Harare regional magistrate Fadzai Mtombeni, they denied acting in connivance as alleged by the State.

“The first accused (Chikumba) will further state that he never acted contrary to and or inconsistent to his duties as a public officer and he denies ever showing any favour to Navistar as being alleged and as such he will put the State to strict proof thereof,” Rubaya said.

Rubaya said his client was not personally involved in the alleged irregular appointment of Navistar.

Chikumba, through his lawyer, further denied procuring insurance brokerage services from Navistar without seeking approval from the State Procurement Board.

He said the allegations were malicious, frivolous and vexatious, being peddled by Air Zimbabwe, through powerful politicians in a bid to stop him from claiming his terminal benefits.

Pfumbidzayi, on the other hand, denied the State allegations that he acted contrary to her duties.

“The second accused will deny that it was her duty to procure the approval of the State Procurement Board before nominating Navistar Insurance Brokers to be its local insurance broker,” Muvirimi said.

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