Mandiwanzira trial date set

HARARE - The State has set December 10 as the trial date of former Information Communication Technology minister Supa Mandiwanzira who is accused of two counts of criminal abuse of office.

The charges relate to his alleged engagement of a South African company, Megawatt to do consultancy work for NetOne and for appointing his personal assistant to the Postal and Telecommunications Regulatory Authority (Potraz) board.

Mandiwanzira appeared before Harare magistrate Rumbidzai Mugwagwa who advised him that his trial will commence on December 10.

Allegations are that on June 26, 2013, NetOne and a Chinese company Huawei Technologies entered into a contract for the supply of network expansion and modernisation equipment.

The contract was valued at $218 954 843 where $191 639 013 was meant for equipment and $27 315 380 for other services.

After signing of the contract, the court heard that NetOne secured a loan from China Exim Bank through the Finance ministry then headed by Patrick Chinamasa, and Huawei Technologies immediately started implementing the contract.

During the implementation process, it is alleged that NetOne renegotiated with Huawei because of technological developments as it was no longer necessary to construct buildings for equipment on each base station. According to the State papers, Megawatt is jointly owned by Liu Xiadong and Blue Nightingale where Mandiwanzira is a director.

It is alleged that Mandiwanzira subsequently engaged Megawatt to review pricing made by Huawei without going to tender. The court heard that Megawatt did the work it had been set to do although there was no contract between the two entities.

On October 12, 2015, Mandiwanzira allegedly convened a meeting in the ministry’s boardroom which was attended by Sam Kundishora, Sydney Nyanungo, Reward Kangai, Godfrey Tarupuwa, Spawn fan Albert Yang and Li Xiadong where he reportedly gave chronology of how the ministry came to contract Megawatt as well as the mandate given to it.

In February 2016, the former Cabinet minister allegedly convened another meeting attended by former NetOne board chair Alex Marufu, Kangai and Kundishora where he claimed that Megawatt has successfully negotiated a price reduction of $20 million.

Mandiwanzira allegedly further directed Marufu and Kangai to pay $4 million to Megawatt where $4 million was alleged to be for consultation fee and $3 million was for represented success fee.

However, the court heard that NetOne refused to pay the $4 million arguing that Megawatt had not gone through a tender process and has no contract with the parastatal.
On the second charge, it is alleged that when Mandiwanzira was appointed ICT minister in December 2014, he was entitled to bring his own personal assistant and driver who would specifically be working in his office.

In March 2015, Mandiwanzira hired Raymond Tawanda Chinembiri who was head of finance and development at AB Communications as his personal assistant. On February 3, 2016, through a letter to Baxton Chirewu who was then acting director-general at Potraz, Mandiwanzira allegedly appointed Chinembiri to sit both on Potraz and Universal Services Fund (USF) board meetings.

According to Corporate Government Principles approved by Cabinet on March 4, 2014, Mandiwanzira was supposed to appoint appropriately qualified personnel from the ministry with knowledge on public enterprise.

Chinembiri, the court heard, attended all Potraz board meetings and was entitled to all benefits offered to other board members. During the period in question, Potraz reportedly paid $35 000 as allowances.

According to the State, Mandiwanzira acted contrary and inconsistent with his duties as a public officer by appointing his PA as a ministry representative at Potraz.

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