High Court judge Justice Benjamin Chikowero has acquitted former Zesa chief executive officer Joshua Chifamba of criminal abuse of office charges.
BY DESMOND CHINGARANDE
Chifamba was jointly charged with former Energy minister Elton Mangoma and Zent Enterprise managing director Teererai Luis Mutasa.
The trio was facing criminal abuse of office charges for allegedly awarding a US$3 million contract to a South Korean company without following due processes.
Chifamba had approached the High Court for review of the lower court judgment in which his application for discharge was dismissed by magistrate Francis Mapfumo at the close of the State case.
Justice Chikowero in his ruling said magistrate Mapfumo agreed to the fact that Zesa was not a procurement entity and also not a statutory entity which was supposed to go to tender before entering into partnership with the South Korean company.
He said the court also accepted that the trio was not required by law to proceed via the tender route and they did not act contrary to their duties by engaging the South Korean firm without going to tender.
“This is where the problem is, the trial court accepted the argument. It is useful to reproduce the trial court’s findings in this regard. I extract them and they read, ‘virtually no evidence was led to prove that Chifamba was a public officer. Also there is no evidence which proves that Zesa Enterprise is a statutory board’,” the ruling read.
“The State alleges that the decision not to go to tender was a violation of board resolutions. Three accused persons might have violated their board resolutions by not going to tender but no board members came to testify that board resolutions were violated. There is also no evidence that they made a complaint.”
Chikowero said this positive finding by the lower court was in favour of the accused persons, meaning the State’s case was dead and buried but the trial court acquitted none.
Chifamba was represented by Oliver Marwa, Mangoma by Tonderai Bhatasara, while Mutasa was being represented by Givemore Madzoka.
Mangoma and Chifamba were accused of presiding over a tender deal that prejudiced Zesa of about $850 000 and nothing was recovered.