Senior Court Reporter
THE trial of former Zinara chief executive officer Saston Muzenda for criminal abuse of office as a public officer has opened at the Harare Magistrates Court.
Muzenda is accused of flouting procurement procedures by hiring two security companies that were rejected by evaluators.
He allegedly first hired the two companies rejected during an evaluation, and then when they were found to be sub-standard, he still extended their contracts.
The State led by Mrs Netsai Mushayabasa alleges that in June 2019, Modern Security and Real Star Security companies were awarded tenders to provide services in Zinara’s northern and southern regions starting from September 1 of the same year.
The previous contracts for Ex-Combatants and National Eye Security were expected to end on August 31, 2019 before Morden Security and Ex-Combatants Security took over.
It is alleged that Muzenda, who was acting CEO, had already allowed Ex-Combatants Security to add security guards in areas that were manned by National Eye Security, when he assumed the post. In a bid to cover his back, Muzenda allegedly wrote to the then Procurement Regulatory Authority on September 30, seeking an extension of services from Ex-Combatants Security.
However, the authority asked Muzenda for the contracts and he responded saying he had already awarded the tender to the security company, extending its contract by 12 months. This is alleged to show biased treatment against Modern Security.
Muzenda denied the charges when he appeared before regional magistrate Mrs Feresi Chakanyuka saying the security companies were already embroiled in contractual disputes when he assumed the position of CEO at Zimbabwe National Roads Administration.
Muzenda, through his lawyer, told the court that there was a committee set up to deal with the contracts of the security companies.
“When he was seconded to Zinara on the 10th of June 2019, Ex-combatants and Zinara were already in a contractual dispute.
“There was a board adhoc committee which was dealing with the matter and when the contract of Ex-combatants security company expired on the 31st of August 2019, Ex-combatants refused to vacate the premises citing contractual dispute.
“On the 17th of September 2019, the board resolved that the contract of Ex-combatants be extended by one year to avoid litigation.
“In all the actions accused acted with the full mandate of the board of directors and the extension of the contract was well within his discretion as the chief executive officer,” the lawyer said.
Muzenda said by the time the contract was extended, he and the board were not informed that the tender processes had been concluded.
“So it is not correct to say that accused disregarded the tender processes” his lawyer said.
Muzenda is expected back in court on September 28 for trial continuation.
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