Reprieve for ex-ZBC boss

via Reprieve for ex-ZBC boss – DailyNews Live 25 June 2014 by Tarisai Machakaire

HARARE – At least two charges have been dropped against suspended Zimbabwe Broadcasting Holdings (ZBC) chief executive Happison Muchechetere.

Muchechetere was initially answering to charges of criminal abuse of duty as a public officer and $800 000 fraud.

The State is now pursuing only the charge of contravening sections of the Procurement Act.

Trial in the matter was postponed to July 9 after Muchechetere’s lawyers Keith Kachambwa and Sylvester Hashiti gave notice to file an application for exception, arguing that the State has no case against him.

The lawyers argued that the State had not given them ample time to prepare their defence outline.

“We received state papers on June 13 and have not been able to adequately prepare our defense,”

Kachambwa said. “As you are aware, this case involves purchase of a vehicle from China and we have been facing challenges to obtain information.

“Accused person has a right to prepare for his trial and the period of 14 working days which we were given by the State is not enough.”

Prosecutor Beaven Marevanhema urged the courts to open the trial, arguing that Muchechetere was given ample time to make preparations.

“The State is ready for trial,” said Marevanhema. “Accused was furnished with a trial date in May and had enough time to prepare.

“He also had enough time to make the application prior to the trial date.

“Accused just intends to derail proceedings.” It is the State’s case that on January 18 last year, Muchechetere, without going through a formal tender, entered into a procurement agreement to purchase an audio outside broadcasting van (OB van) with the China National Instruments Imports and Exports Corporation valued at $1 050 000.

In the agreement, Muchechetere represented ZBC as the accounting officer.

On June  28, he single-handedly concluded the purchase deal.

The Chinese firm then issued a commercial invoice of $1 050 000 which resulted in the OB van being delivered on August 8 last year.

The offence was unearthed following a publication by the leading independent daily newspaper Daily News on January 28 this year, which led the State Procurement Board to investigate the matter, leading to Muchechetere’s arrest.