By Mary Taruvinga
HIGH Court judges Pisirayi Kwenda and Benjamin Chikowero have cleared former Energy Minister Elton Mangoma and former ZESA Enterprises managing director Tererai Luis Mutasa of any wrongdoing in tender scam allegations which arose against the two in 2019.
The pair, together with former ZESA CEO Joshua Chifamba, was accused of having engaged a Korean Company Techpro, in switch gear deal without following tender procedures.
Their freedom comes following a technical misdirection by Harare magistrate Francis Mapfumo who dismissed their application for discharge despite having agreed that the trio did not commit any offence with regards to the deal.
Kwenda and Chikowero said as such, the magistrate could not put the two to their defence.
“What the court did was to clear the applicants of the crime charges and then preferred a new charge at the close of state case.
“The charge is new because the applicants were put on their defence on conduct which was not the basis of the original charge,” said Kwenda in a judgement which came out on Wednesday.
They added, “Introducing a fresh charge at the close of the state case was an irregularity so gross that it destroyed the legal validity of the proceedings.
“In short, the proceedings a quo really ended with the magistrate’s finding that it was not necessary for ZESA Enterprises to go to tender. What should have followed that finding as a matter of law, was the pronouncement of the verdict of not guilty.
“The irregularity cannot be corrected by way of appeal but review. For the above reasons, the application for review succeeds.
“We order as follows; that the decision of the first respondent dismissing the applicant’s application for discharge at the close of state’s under ACC 24/19 be and is hereby set aside. The application for discharge be and hereby granted. Accused 1 and 2 are hereby found not guilty and are acquitted.”
Chifamba was acquitted for same reasons by the same judges last year.
During the trial, the trio denied the allegations arguing that ZESA Enterprises was not a statutory board and not bound by tender laws.