Harare waste manager sued over $1,5m tender

HARARE - Suspended Harare City Council acting town clerk Josephine Ncube testified yesterday in court in a case in which the municipality’s waste water manager Simon Muserere is accused of corruptly concealing from a principal a personal interest in a transactions worth over $1,5 million.

Ncube said Muserere should have declared his interests, further adding that a company which was contracted by Muserere to rehabilitate sewerage pipes was apparently owned by Muserere’s relatives. The company should not have been awarded the contract if their papers were not in order,” she said.

She confirmed to Harare Magistrate Bianca Makwande that the council’s procurement board had waivered normal tender proceedings to allow for Muserere to handpick bidders. 

“The board sat and allowed for selective tendering. In this case, there is no advert for the tender but the council invites companies to bid for the contract. Muserere is the one who would be involved in the selective tendering,” Ncube told the court yesterday

According to the State case, sometime between February 2010 and August 2010, Muserere initiated the upgrading and rehabilitation of Highlands sewerage pipeline and arranged the selective tendering by handpicking prospective bidders for the said works worth $1,273 million.

“... upgrading and rehabilitation works were eventually awarded to Showbyte Engineering (Pvt) Ltd, a company that is owned by his mother, brother and sister in-laws and his wife who had drawing rights to the company’s Standard Charted account number ... without disclosing to his principal his interest in the selective tendering process award of   contract and supervision of works on the project.

“When Muserere carried out his transaction, he intended to deceive his principal, or realised that there was a real risk or possibility that principal might be deceived,” the court papers read.

He is also accused of initiating a project for the construction if an 800 meter sewer diversion in Chadcombe “and arranged the selective tendering for the said works worth $300 000 on behalf of his principal which works were eventually awarded to Showbyte Engineering (Pvt) Ltd,” - the same company that is owned by his relatives.

Muserere, however, denied the allegations. He is set to challenge the city to prove the allegations that he had “personal interest” in the transaction and that he is the one who initiated the sewer developments and that he is the one who arranged the selective tendering by hand picking prospective bidders.

“He will further deny being involved in the awarding of the alleged tenders to Showbyte... Additionally, Muserere will challenge the State to prove that the company, Showbyte is a company owned by the alleged individuals and that the alleged owners of the company are his relatives as alleged.

“There is no evidence at all to show knowledge and connection between the accused and the process leading to the awarding of the alleged tenders to the company in question,” his defence outline reads.

The trial continues on January 24 with Michael Reza, representing  the State, while  Muserere is being represented by Admire Rubaya.