HARARE - Ex-Zimbabwe Broadcasting Holdings chief executive Happison Muchechetere’s prosecution for contravening the Procurement Act is set to resume after the Constitutional Court threw out his appeal challenging the criminal proceedings.
Muchechetere withdrew the appeal yesterday after Deputy Chief Justice Luke Malaba, leading the Constitutional Court bench, ruled that the application was not filed in terms of the law.
“There is no issue at the moment, it’s (the application) dead,” Malaba said.
He said that the requirements of Section 175 (4) of the Constitution were not met, rendering the application improperly before the court.
Section 175 (4) stipulates that, “If a constitutional matter arises in any proceedings before a court, the person presiding over that court may and if so requested by any party to the proceedings, must, refer the matter to the Constitutional Court unless he or she considers the request merely frivolous or vexatious.”
His lawyer Thabani Mpofu conceded to the court’s averments, before seeking to have the matter withdrawn.
“By consent the matter is removed from the roll for the reasons that it has been withdrawn. There shall be no order as to costs,” Malaba said.
In the application, Muchechetere cited President Robert Mugabe, the State and the Attorney-General Prince Machaya as respondents.
He argued that charges against him are constitutionally invalid.
“The charge applicant alleges that the Zimbabwe Broadcasting Corporation is a procuring entity and that the accused person is its accounting officer. That allegation is heretical as a matter of law as the corporation does not as a matter of law exist,” he argued.
He claimed that the charges were only valid if the name of a party exists at law.
“The (private) limited company which employs the accused person and which is not a procuring entity cannot be substituted in the place of the old corporation,” he had argued.
He said according to statute, regulations require that a procuring entity will be a corporation not a private limited company.
Muchechetere said in his case, the corporation no longer exists as it was disbanded by statute.
Allegations against Muchechetere arose in January 2013, when he entered into a procurement deal with a Chinese company to purchase an audio outside broadcasting van (OB van) for $1 050 000.
He allegedly entered into the agreement without going to tender.
Muchechetere allegedly misrepresented to the ZBC executive committee in May 2013 that the $495 000 donated by the BancABC was enough to purchase an audio van, a cargo van and a crew bus, and the committee approved the purchase of the items using the said money.
The State alleges that prior to the meeting, Muchechetere did not disclose to the committee that he had already entered into a purchasing deal to the tune of $1 050 000 for only the radio OB van.
According to State papers, Muchechetere flew to China alone where he signed an agreement concerning the inspection of the van which was never carried out by other members of the executive committee.
The OB van was subsequently delivered to Zimbabwe in August 2013 after BancABC released another $100 000 to the Chinese company, the State claims.
The offence came to light after Muchechetere’s suspension in November 2013.
After the suspension, it was discovered that the OB van had a market value of $350 000 contrary to the $1 050 000 that Muchechetere signed for.
According to State papers, he prejudiced the national broadcaster of $800 000.