By Mary Taruvinga
FORMER ICT Minister Supa Mandiwanzira had his stringent reporting conditions relaxed by a Harare magistrate Thursday after convincing the court circumstances were infringing on his livelihood.
The Zanu PF MP for Nyanga South is facing criminal abuse of office charges relating to alleged illegal awarding of a consultancy deal to Megawatt Company based in South Africa, which according to the state, caused government telecoms firm, NetOne to lose $US5 million.
He also stands accused of appointing his unqualified personal assistant to the Postal and Telecommunications Regulatory Authority (Potraz) board.
Presiding magistrate, Elijah Makomo ruled there was no reason to continue being harsh considering that Mandiwanzira has “adhered to his reporting conditions religiously”.
Following his arrest last year, Mandiwanzira was released on $RTGS3 000 pending finalisation of his case.
He was also ordered to report twice a week to the police, surrender his passport as well as title deeds to one of his properties.
Seeking relief recently, Mandiwanzira, through his lawyer Advocate Thembinkosi Magwaliba, said the conditions were too stringent to allow him to fend for his family.
“Nyanga South Constituency is about 300km from Harare and in order to represent his constituency, he needs to travel there regularly. This stifles his work as he has to travel back to Harare just to report to the police,” said his lawyer.
Mandiwanzira also applied for temporary release of his passport as he intends to travel to China on a business mission.
He also offered to surrender title deeds to one more property worth $100 000, in order to convince the State, he is not a flight risk.
Makomo is yet to make his ruling on the request.
The magistrate is awaiting a High Court ruling on an application in which the media businessman is challenging his ruling on exception.
Court heard the ruling will be made after the coming Wednesday.
Mandiwanzira contends he is not a flight risk since he once handed himself to the police after flying all the way from China knowing he had criminal allegations being levelled against him.
But prosecution is challenging his request for release of passport on grounds that the State now has reason to be scared the accused may abscond after former cabinet ministers Walter Mzembi and Saviour Kasukuwere failed to return to the country after being allowed to travel.
Kasukuwere had already had his Nyanga holiday home seized by the State.
Michael Chakandida is representing the State.
Magwaliba is being assisted by Advocate Brian Hungwe and both are taking instructions from Mandiwanzira’s lawyer, Selby Hwacha.