Fungai Lupande Court Reporter
The trial of former Energy and Power Development Minister Elton Steers Mangoma, who is accused of flouting tender procedures, took a U-turn yesterday after a State Procurement Board (SPB) official exonerated him and implicated Zimbabwe Electricity Transmission and Distribution Company (ZETDC) accounting officer Mr Julian Chinembiri.
Mangoma (54) is being accused of hand-picking OK Zimbabwe as the third party prepaid electricity vendor after ordering the cancellation of a ZETDC tender.
Mangoma allegedly flouted tender procedures during his time in the inclusive Government.
Testifying as the first State witness, the complainant, SPB principal officer Mr Cledwyn Nyanhete, told the court that they did not have complaints against Mangoma, but Mr Chinembiri.
This was after Mangoma’s lawyer Ms Beatrice Mtetwa, said according to the SPB Act, an accounting officer had the right to dispute an illegal directive.
“We never received any letter disputing the procedural awarding of tender to OK Zimbabwe from the accounting officer Mr Chinembiri.
“Mr Chinembiri is the one who should be in the dock according to the SPB Act. We have complaints against him and not Mangoma.”
The second witness retired Engineer Enoch Ncube, told the court that he worked at ZETDC as a commercial director when Mangoma was minister.
“Mangoma called me inquiring why the pilot project was not moving as fast as he wanted,” said Ncube.
“He said there are businesses like OK Zimbabwe who were ready to help us.
“I wrote to OK Zimbabwe requesting a meeting and this was a big job that needed to go to tender.”
In his defence, Mangoma through his lawyer, said the tender was a pilot project totally different in scope and function from provisions under the pilot projects ZETDC executed with OK Zimbabwe.
“It was for ZETDC to comply with tender procedures as it was not a ministerial function,” she said.
“His accusers appear totally ignorant of functions and responsibilities of a minister that fall under his ministerial portfolio.
“In terms of the law an accounting officer given a directive with financial implications, which she or he is not authorised, is obliged to submit in writing objecting to the minister or deputy minister.
“The accused was subjected to prosecution in the past five years designed to intimidate him to abandon his political career.”
Mangoma is facing charges of criminal abuse of duty as a public officer.
Prosecutor Mr Michael Reza, alleged that when Mangoma was Minister of Energy and Power Development he oversaw the operations of ZESA Holdings (Pvt) Ltd and its subsidiaries including ZETDC (Pvt) Ltd.
It is alleged that in August 2012, ZETDC floated tender number ZETDC 13/2012 for the appointment of third party pre-paid electricity vendor.
The closing date was October 2 the same year.
On September 17 2012, it is alleged that Mangoma, contrary to or inconsistent with his duties as a public officer, directed ZETDC accounting officer Mr Chinembiri to cancel the tender.
Furthermore, Mangoma allegedly ordered Mr Chinembiri to hand-pick OK Zimbabwe without going to tender.