Zinara finance manager nails CEO in graft trial

HARARE - A Zimbabwe National Roads Administration (Zinara) finance manager yesterday recounted in court how former chief executive officer Moses Juma made him sign a back-dated document that reportedly concealed a fraudulent transaction.

Shadreck Matengabadza was testifying during the graft trial of Juma before Harare regional magistrate Hosea Mujaya.

Juma is facing allegations of flouting tender procedures and prejudicing the State.

Juma was released from police custody by former vice president Phelekezela Mphoko in 2016 but is now standing trial over the graft charges that the fallen VP sought to shield him from.

Mphoko stirred controversy in July 2016 after he stormed Avondale Police Station and ordered the release of Juma and Davison Norupiri, who has since turned a State witness in the matter.

“I knew Juma around August 2014 when the chief executive officer took leave and he acted on his behalf.

“Zimra started garnishing Zinara for taxes and it was difficult to negotiate,” Matengabadza said.

“Zimra was saying that we had dealt with companies without tax clearance and by September that year, we had paid $5,6 million and around $9,7 million was outstanding, prompting the matter to be taken to the Board.

“Tax Management Services was then engaged to do tax health checks and an invoice of $17 250 was prepared and we paid. When the auditors came, I was asked to produce the document of how Tax Management Services had been engaged.

“I went to Juma’s office and noticed that it had not been signed and he signed it right before me and also made me to sign. I noticed that it was endorsed 2014 but the full date had not been put.”

The court heard that Matengabadza was then tasked to take the document to his superior Nyasha Murove whose signature was also required.

In his defence, Juma told the court that he actually saved Zinara from a financial crisis .

He said Tax Management Services was engaged through a Board resolution.

“The accused person has been selectively picked for prosecution because he was considered a stumbling block to other politicians. He held information about their corrupt activities,” reads Juma’s defence.

The complainant is State represented by acting principal officer at State Procurement Board.

Prosecutor Chris Mutangadura alleged that sometime in 2014 Zinara had a tax obligation with Zimra of $15 418 133, 61 and as a result the authority garnished
$5 714 587, 25 on their account leaving a balance of $9 703 546, 36.

A report was made to the Zinara Board by management for guidance to reduce tax obligations.

Zinara Board tasked the Finance Committee chaired by Norupiri to engage a tax consultancy firm to reduce tax obligations.

The court heard that three firms Misfot Tax Consultancy, Excel Tax Consultancy and Central Source Management Consultancy trading as Tax Management Services were chosen to make presentations.

On September 23, 2014, the firms made presentations and Tax Management Services was recommended for engagement.

Later that same day, a meeting was convened and it was finalised that Tax Management Services would be engaged.

Juma in his capacity as acting accounting officer at that time went on to engage Tax Management Services without following proper tender procedures and Zinara was charged $17 250 for tax health checks, the State alleges.

The offence came to light during an inquiry by the Auditor General’s office which discovered that there was no contract between Zinara and Tax Management Services.

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