High Court clears Supa

THE High Court has acquitted former Cabinet minister Supa Mandiwanzira of criminal abuse of office charges that emanated from an alleged botched $5 million telecommunications deal at NetOne (Pvt) Ltd.

Mandiwanzira had approached the court for review of dismissal of an application for exception he had made before the deputy chief magistrate Elijah Makomo at Harare Magistrates’ Court.

In a ruling read out by Justice Nicholas Mathonsi, Makomo’s ruling was set aside and substituted with an order that charges against Mandiwanzira in the first count be quashed.

Mandiwanzira was being charged with two counts of contravening section 174 (1)(a) of the Criminal Law Codification and Reform Act, criminal abuse of office and had contested the first count.

“In the circumstances of the matter the said ruling is so grossly irrational, unreasonable and outrageous in its defiance of logic or acceptable legal and moral standards that no court acting fairly, impartially and reasonably would have arrived at it,” Mandiwanzira said during the court application.

Mandiwanzira had argued that Statutory Instrument 160/2012 removed NetOne from the list of public enterprises that were deemed to be procuring entities.

“The engagement of Megawatt was on the basis that no payment would be made by the Government of Zimbabwe or NetOne for the services. 

“The payment of $4 000 000 was a success-based fee recoverable from Huawei Technologies if it was found to have been overpriced,” Mandiwanzira had argued.

“As at the date on which the procurement is alleged to have taken place, that is February 2015, NetOne was not bound to follow the procurement procedures set out in the Act and its regulations. It could therefore procure services without going to tender.”

According to the State papers, Megawatt is jointly owned by Liu Xiadong and Blue Nightingale where Mandziwanzira 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 contracted for although there was no contract between the two entities.

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