By Mary Taruvinga
FORMER ZBC presenter Oscar Pambuka and ex-Zanu PF legislator, Psychology Maziwisa must defend themselves against fraud allegations after a Harare court ruled that they have a case to answer.
Magistrate Lazini Ncube ruled that the two should be put to their defence as evidence against them was overwhelming.
Pambuka and Maziwisa are charged with fraud after they reportedly billed the Zimbabwe Power Company (ZPC) purporting to have influenced publicity of the company’s projects on national television and radio stations.
“ZPC managing director, Noah Gwariro, made it clear that the company now realises the accused had no influence in the production of news items on ZBC,” said the magistrate.
Court also found out that all ZBC witnesses corroborated each other that the accused had no role in news production.
“The accused also did not deny submitting invoices and the question they should answer is what were they paid for,” said Ncube.
Suspended ZBC head of news Tazzen Mandizvidza told court that here was no way the broadcaster could have charged ZPC for news articles.
“When we cover a ministry’s event, we call it a diary, or some may prefer to call it a national event and it is our mandate to cover such events as long as they are newsworthy,” he said.
He also told court that he was not aware of the purported agreement between Pambuka, Maziwisa and ZPC.
Another witness, Clifford Baloyi – a producer at National FM – echoed the same sentiments.
ZBC bulletins manager, Moses Charedzera told court that Pambuka was just a presenter and would only read bulletins prepared by producers.
Prosecuting, Michael Reza said the duo would read newspaper articles, written by other journalists and then claim payment from ZPC.
Maziwisa and Pambuka allegedly duped ZPC using their public relations (PR) consultancy company, Fruitful Communications.
This was after they were favoured by former energy minister Samuel Undenge with a contract to work for ZPC even as the firm had its own PR department.
The suspects are expected back in court on November 1 for continuation of trial.