HARARE – Former Cabinet minister Samuel Undenge yesterday tore into the Zimbabwe Anti-Corruption Commission (Zacc) for ignoring graft cases involving millions of dollars while pursuing perceived rivals of President Emmerson Mnangagwa’s administration.
Undenge is facing criminal abuse of office charges for allegedly awarding a media consultancy tender worth $12 650 to a company owned by television personality Oscar Pambuka and Psychology Maziwisa.
Presenting his defence, Undenge said his prosecution had been politically motivated because he was a member of the Generation 40 (G40) cabal, perceived to have pursued a war of attrition against Mnangagwa before the military intervention last November that swept the 75-year-old politician into power.
He questioned why Mnangagwa, who authorised the contract during his tenure as vice president, had not been brought to book.
Undenge told the court that he was actually a victim of Pambuka and Maziwisa’s misrepresentations because when they approached his office he was convinced that they would be doing publicity work for the Zimbabwe Power Company (ZPC) free of charge.
“I was surprised to be eventually made an accused person because Zacc had called me to give a witness statement before two investigating officers but they then went to consult the bosses and came back saying they now had instructions to arrest me instead,” Undenge testified.
“…at the end of the day, I took it (to be) a political persecution for being a member of the G40. It is well known that Marry Chiwenga was awarded a multi-million dollar deal without going to tender and I am saying this because there are real people who committed crime who are not being arrested.
“The letter which I authorised brought to my office by Pambuka and Maziwisa was coming from then vice president Emmerson Mnangagwa. Why then did Zacc not record a statement from Mnangagwa for instructing these people to be engaged by ZPC without going to tender?”
Undenge said Pambuka and Maziwisa were conmen who had hoodwinked him into signing for the deal with fraudulent intentions.
The former Energy minister said there was no way he could have turned away Pambuka and Maziwisa when they came with instructions from Mnangagwa since he was his principal at the time.
“Since Maziwisa and Pambuka had indicated that they were offering their services for free as they had previously done with the Energy ministry there was no need to go to tender,” Undenge added.
“I never knew that at any point Pambuka and Maziwisa had got payment. The only time I picked that something had happened was when I was told they had demanded $36 000 and I had instructed the chief executive officer Joshua Chifamba to tell the managing director Noah Gwariro to stop that payment.
“When Pambuka and Maziwisa later came to my office I chased them away and it is only that I was a minister that I restrained myself from beating them.”
According to the State, Maziwisa and Pambuka are director and media executive, respectively, at Fruitful Communications.
Sometime in January 2016, Maziwisa and Pambuka brought a letter to ZPC from Undenge directing the company to work with Fruitful Communications at intervals of six months per engagement.
During that month, Maziwisa and Pambuka entered a verbal agreement with ZPC which was represented by Gwariro and Fadzai Chisveto to do publicity work.
The court heard that on February 12, 2016 Fruitful Communications hosted a ZimAsset conference at Meikles Hotel where Undenge was guest of honour and the event was covered by the national broadcaster.
It was further alleged that on March 8 Maziwisa and Pambuka, intending to defraud ZPC, presented to Chisveto an invoice claiming they had hosted various programmes on Zimbabwe Broadcasting Corporation, National FM and Power FM.
Maziwisa and Pambuka claimed that Fruitful Communications had caused the programmes to be aired on radio and television and claimed $12 650.
The duo was paid $12 650 and prejudiced ZPC the full amount, and nothing was recovered.