Source: Supa arrested | Daily News
HARARE – Former Information Communication and Technology (ICT) minister Supa Mandiwanzira was arrested yesterday on two charges of criminal abuse of office.
He is due to appear in court today.
Mandiwanzira’s lawyers — advocates Thembi Magwaliba and Brian Hungwe — said Mandiwanzira handed himself to the police yesterday morning on return from an overseas business trip.
“… Mandiwanzira, immediately on return from an overseas business trip, presented himself to the police at their request this morning.
“The police interviewed him in connection with allegations of abuse of office on two issues: 1. That he allegedly engaged Megawatt company to do consultancy work for NetOne without going to tender and that he allegedly appointed his personal assistant, a government employee at deputy director level, to the Potraz board in violation of corporate governance principles and a Cabinet circular,” the lawyers, who are acting on instructions of Selby Hwacha of Dube Manikai & Hwacha, said in a statement.
Potraz is the acronym for the Postal and Regulatory Authority of Zimbabwe, which regulates the country’s telecommunications industry.
According to Mandiwanzira’s legal team, the former scribe-turned-media owner is denying the charges.
“… Mandiwanzira denied the allegations and advised the police that Megawatt offered consultancy services at no cost to the government. That consultancy led to the recovery of tens of millions of dollars for NetOne.
“He explained that no corporate governance principles or any circular, were violated in the appointment of the PA as a Potraz board member,” the statement reads in part.
Former ICT minister Supa Mandiwanzira at Harare Magistrates Court
Yesterday, the Zimbabwe Republic Police (ZRP) confirmed Mandiwanzira’s arrest in connection with two counts of contravening section 174 of the Criminal Law (Codification and Reform) Act, Chapter 9:23 “Criminal abuse of office”.
“This is in connection with the audit contract awarded to Megawatt company without going to tender, an entity in which Mandiwanzira had interests and subsequent directive by him for NetOne to pay $4 million for the service and $1 million for consultancy. The payments were stopped by the Procurement Regulatory Authority of Zimbabwe as Megawatt company had been unprocedurally awarded the contract,” reads the statement issued by assistant commissioner Paul Nyathi.
Referring to Mandiwanzira as “comrade”, the police said the former television personality also faces charges “for unprocedurally seconding Tawanda Chinembiri to the Potraz board without following the required due process and subsequent loss of $35 000 by Potraz through allowances drawn by Chinembiri.
Mandiwanzira, who was curiously dropped from President Emmerson Mnangagwa’s Cabinet after the disputed July 30 elections, is a Zanu PF Member of Parliament for Nyanga North and a businessman of note.
While his star shone brightly during former president Robert Mugabe’s era, it dimmed under the new administration when he lost his Cabinet post.
Since his ascendance to the throne last November, Mnangagwa has been trying to walk the talk on fighting corruption at the highest level.
Several former Cabinet ministers have been arraigned before the courts facing various charges, among them Ignatius Chombo, Samuel Undenge, Walter Chidhakwa, Walter Mzembi and David Parirenyatwa.
As ICT minister, Mandiwanzira ruffled feathers with some of the executives from parastatals that were under his purview.
Late last year, former NetOne chief executive officer Reward Kangai asked Mnangagwa to institute a wide-ranging judicial inquiry into alleged criminal abuse of office and untested corruption allegations he had levelled against Mandiwanzira.
Kangai, who was fired from NetOne in 2016, alleged back then that Mandiwanzira handpicked Megawatt — a South African firm with Chinese links — to investigate the operations of Huawei, the telecommunications giant, without going to tender.
The documents submitted by Kangai claimed that Mandiwanzira was a director in Blue Nightingale Trading, a company that worked with Megawatt to carry out an audit into a NetOne deal without going to tender.
However, the former Cabinet minister rubbished the claims and went on to sue Kangai, demanding $7 million in damages, saying the ex-NetOne boss had harmed his reputation.