Plot to fleece $240 000 from ministry backfires

Fungai Lupande Court Reporter
Ministry of Finance and Economic Development officials accused of conniving to swindle the ministry of $240 000 were stopped in their tracks after the money they requested for the Harare-Masvingo Road construction exceeded funds availed by Treasury.

This emerged during the trial of the officials where it was alleged the money was fraudulently released to the Ministry of Transport and Infrastructural Development through the general ledger system as payment for the road projects offered by Stanax Enter- prises.

The accused are Tawanda Mawundike (30), Brian Nyazamba (34), Shorai Eshille Kamuto (28), Gift Joyful Makura (43) and Gift Gumbira (58) from the Ministry of Finance and Economic Development, and Macdonald Matowa (33), Malvin Mutsvangiri (37) and Winnet Kunonga (36) from the Ministry of Transport Infrastructural Development.

Testifying in court, Finance and Economic Development ministry economist Mr Samuel Phiri said he established that the money could not be processed because it exceeded funds availed to them.

“After discovering the irregularity I requested the Accountant-General’s Department to stop payment until the Ministry of Transport and Infrastructural Development cleared the issue,” said Mr Phiri.

“I later discovered that the payment voucher was prepared by Kamuto, signed by Nyazamba who posted the transaction into the Public Finance Management System to initiate pay- ment.

“The document was forwarded to Makura, who also signed and did payment run. Gumbira finally signed, signalling the completion of cash transfer to the Ministry of Transport and Infrastructure Development.”

Mr Phiri added that he asked his workmate, Mawundike, why he had released the funds but he professed ignorance.

Prosecutor Mr Norman Tsarwe alleged that on June 10 last year Mawundike who is an economist allegedly logged into the Public Finance Management System (PFMS) using his EC number 4004285H.

He fraudulently released $240 000 to the Ministry of Transport and Infrastructure Development through the general ledger system.

The transaction was without approval from Director of Public Sector Investment Programme, Mr Fidelis Ngorora, and Mr Phiri, who is responsible for releasing funds to the Transport Ministry.

To cover his tracks Mawundike misrepresented that the funds were released in 2013.

The offence was unearthed on June 12 after follow-ups were made by the Accountant-General’s Department on the progress of $240 800 payments to CMED for the purchase of vehicles for the 34th Sadc summit.