Chihuri using police for terrorist campaign in Zimbabwe

HARARE – Energy and Power Development Minister Elton Mangoma this week defied Police Commissioner General Augustine Chihuri and attended Cabinet meetings against his will, but landed in deep trouble.

He was arrested again on Friday, for the second time in a fortnight, for allegedly violating tender procedures.

After he was freed on bail on Tuesday last week following his arrest on corruption allegations, Mangona found himself at loggerheads with Chihuri.

The police chief wrote to President Robert Mugabe’s office six days after Mangoma’s release, saying he should be barred from going to his office and attending Cabinet meetings.

The letter from Chihuri was forwarded to Mangoma.

Mangoma went to his office and even attended two Cabinet meetings this week – the regular Cabinet meeting on Tuesday and an extraordinary session on Thursday.

A day after daring Chihuri, Mangoma was arrested by police for allegedly manipulating tender procedures in awarding a contract for the supply and delivery of prepayment revenue management systems and associated equipment.

It is alleged that he was transferred from the Ministry of Economic Development to Energy and Power Development, Mangoma cancelled a Zimbabwe Electricity Transmission and Distribution Company tender on smart metering initially awarded to Solahart and gave it to a company called Vas-X Technology. It is further alleged he had a conflict of interest and, by inference, something to gain.

Mangoma appeared in court on Friday and was remanded in custody to July 18. He is due to appear in court tomorrow over allegations of awarding a fuel supply contract to SA companies, Mohwelere and NOOA, without tender.

In a confidential letter to the Chief Secretary in the Office of President and Cabinet, Dr Misheck Sibanda, dated March 21, Chihuri says Mangoma should be stopped from working while on bail.

Chihuri said the fact that the six witnesses due to testify against Mangoma tomorrow were his subordinates meant he could interfere with investigations. "The fact that all the six witnesses are the accused’s subordinates, places the witnesses in a difficult situation as they have to report to him time and again. It is therefore recommended that the accused be barred from visiting the office in compliance with the bail conditions," Chihuri writes.

Senior MDC-T ministers angrily dismissed Chihuri’s letter, saying it sought to illegally amend Mangoma’s bail conditions and sneak in more stringent measures.

Mangoma defied Chihuri and continued to go his office and perform his official duties until his arrest on Friday.

He was first arrested on March 10 over the controversial $6-million fuel supply deal. It is alleged he gave the contract to Mohwelere and NOAA in violation of tender procedures. The agreement to supply Zimbabwe with five million litres of fuel was signed in January.

Mangoma said the fuel deal was necessitated by a national emergency as there was a shortage of supplies in the country.

He blamed Mugabe for his arrest, saying he thought he had cleared the case in Cabinet on March 1 and with the president on March 3.

Meanwhile, his lawyers have accused the police and prosecutors of abusing court processes after his latest arrest.

Human rights lawyer Beatrice Mtetwa, who is representing Mangoma with her colleague Selby Hwacha, criticised the police and the prosecutors for prosecuting him in phases.

"This case and the other case could easily have been brought together… the instalment prosecutions constitute a gross abuse of court processes by the police and the AG and we intend to challenge the process," said Mtetwa in court before magistrate Kudakwashe Jarabini set down Mangoma’s trial date.

Prosecutors allege that Mangoma abused his public office for the purpose of showing disfavour to some local and SA companies, which had participated in a tender for the supply and delivery of prepayment revenue management system meters and associated equipment.

They charge that he instructed Zesa Holdings board chairman Noah Madziva, former Zesa chief executive Benjamin Rafemoyo and the State Procurement Board to stop processing the tender, effectively cancelling the tender awaiting announcement of the winner. – TimesLive