Tendai Rupapa Senior Court Reporter
MUNESUSHE Munodawafa, the permanent secretary in the Ministry of Transport and Infrastructural Development, appeared in court yesterday charged with corruption.Munodawafa (49) is accused of ordering Air Zimbabwe to pay Navistar Insurance Brokers US$305 000 apparently without reason.
On another count, he is accused of directing the airline to lease a plane from South Africa without going to tender, and ordering Airzim to pay an associate of his a “finder’s fee” of US$10 200 per month.
Munodawafa, a former principal director in the former Vice President Joice Mujuru’s office, was arrested on Tuesday.
He was not asked to plead to two counts of criminal abuse of office when he appeared before Harare magistrate Vakayi Chikwekwe.
Munodawafa was remanded to June 24 on $1 000 bail coupled with stringent conditions.
As part of the bail conditions, Munodawafa was ordered to surrender his passport, to report to the police once a week and to reside at his Hillside home until the finalisation of the case.
Munodawafa has hired top Harare lawyer Jonathan Samukange, who is assisted by Tafadzwa Hungwe, while Michael Reza, Sharon Mashavira and Idah Mateke-Maromo are representing the State.
On the first count, prosecutors say on November 3, 2009, an MA60 aircraft was involved in an accident at the Harare International Airport after wild pigs wandered across the runway.
The aircraft, the court heard, was a complete write-off and the airline was paid $6,1 million by its London re-insurer, Chartis Insurance Company.
On April 23, 2010, Chartis Insurance made a counter claim of the same amount against CAAZ for their negligence in failing to ensure that the runway was safe. The claim included $2,419,724 for loss of business by Airzim.
CAAZ, which is government-owned, approached Munodawafa’s office for assistance and he in turn appointed Navistar Insurance Brokers to go to London and negotiate an out-of-court settlement without going to tender, it is alleged.
At the time of Navistar’s appointment, Munodawafa was fully aware that CAAZ’s insurance broker was Marsh Insurance Brokers.
Upon the return of Navistar from London, Munodawafa wrote to the then Airzim Accounting Officer Innocent Mavhunga, directing him to pay Navistar a “success fee” of $305,000.
“There was no logic for Munodawafa to appoint Navistar for the task when CAAZ’s broker was Marsh Insurance Brokers. Further, the service rendered by Navistar was to be paid for by CAAZ and not Air Zimbabwe,” prosecutors say.
On the second count, following the MA60 accident, Munodawafa on April 18, 2013, personally negotiated a lease of an Embraer plane from Solenta Aviation of South Africa through his friend, Ben Dahwa.
Thereafter, he allegedly directed Mavhunga to rent the plane from Solenta Aviation without going to tender.
Subsequently, the plane was leased for six months with a condition of paying an “irregular finder’s fee” of $10,200 to be paid to Dahwa every month.
Munodawafa’s actions, say prosecutors, were contrary and inconsistent with his duties as a public officer.
The alleged prejudice to Air Zimbabwe came to light after the airline’s board chaired by Ozias Bvute commissioned a forensic audit report by BCA Forensic Auditors.
Air Zimbabwe’s former CEO Peter Chikumba and former legal secretary Grace Pfumbidzayi were earlier this month jailed for seven years each for criminal abuse of office after they presided over a US$10 million swindle at the airline – also unearthed by BCA’s audit report.
Pfumbidzayi is Munodawafa’s niece.
Three Navistar executives Givemore Nderere, 46, Vukile Hlupo, 46, and Orten Mawire, 61, were acquitted of fraud by a magistrate – a decision which is now the subject of a vigorous appeal by prosecutors.