Senior Court Reporter
In the continuing trial yesterday of former Cabinet Minister Prisca Mupfumira on charges relating to a Gweru housing deal, National Social Security Authority (NSSA) head of investments and projects Mr Kurauone Chihota told the court that she was not involved in the process that led to the deal between NSSA and Drawcard Enterprises.
Mr Chihota told the court that Mupfumira did not play any official role in the signing of the agreement, as she was not the accounting officer when it was signed and there was no evidence signalling her involvement in formulating the agreement.
Mupfumira is jointly charged with NSSA’s former director contribution and collections Barnabas Matongera on allegations of pushing the project without the board’s approval and without following tender procedures.
Mr Chihota told the court that Matongera did not officially participate in the deal since he was not the accounting officer during the time they allegedly committed the offence.
He gave the evidence of the lack of official involvement while being cross-examined by Mr Admire Rubaya, who is representing Mupfumira, and Mr Masinire who is appearing on behalf of Matongera.
Asked by Mr Rubaya to comment on Mupfumira’s assertions that she did not play a role in the signing of the agreement and that there was no indication that she was involved in any way in the process, Mr Chihota replied: “I agree, that is correct.”
Mr Chihota said there was no evidence that proved that Mupfumira gave instructions for the signing of the agreement within 48 hours.
There were no letters or any communique that was written by Mupfumira giving instructions for signing of the agreement.
When Mr Rubaya said that Mupfumira thought that as head of projects and investment, Chihota ought to be the one in the dock because he was required to see that everything was above board, Chihota told the court that he raised queries with the NSSA’s then general manager and the then board chairperson over the pricing of the stands.
“In regard to that, I recall querying the price per square metre and I took it to the general manager and chairperson saying the proposed amount was in excess of our viability,” he said. “Replies that I got were that our principals, that is (Mupfumira), had said proceed with that project at that cost.”
When asked by Mr Rubaya why he failed to raise issues on irregularities on tender and procurement, Mr Chihota said he was not the one who authored the agreement.
“You will realise that it was not authored by me,” he said.
“I was unable to because I was not in control at the conclusion of the agreement. I was physically out of the country.”
Mr Chihota told the court that he was not the one who raised a criminal complaint against Mupfumira.
He told the court that Matongera was not the accounting officer during the period they allegedly committed the offence.
“Mrs Elizabeth Chitiga was the general manager and the accounting officer. To my knowledge, I do not know whether he (Matongera) participated in the signing of the agreement,” he said.
Asked whether off-take projects were required to go through tender procedures or not, Mr Chihota said NSSA was free to enter such agreements as part and parcel of its investing activities.
“My portfolio would analyse projects and present this to the management investment committee,” he said.
“If approved, it would be sent to the board investment committee.
“My department would provide objectives of agreements, and the legal department would lay out technical aspects.”
The trial is expected to continue on November 9 and 10 on the continuous roll.
Harare regional magistrate Mr Ngoni Nduna presided, while Mr Whisper Mabhaudi and Mr Loveit Masuku appeared for the State.