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Graft accused Potraz boss allowed foreign visit, as ruling on exception is postponed

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By Mary Taruvinga


POSTAL and Telecommunications Regulatory Authority (Potraz) director general, Gift Machengete has been given back his passport temporarily, to allow him to travel to Spain on government business.

Machengete is accused of violating the Public Procurement and Disposal of Public Assets (General) Regulations 2018 prejudicing the State of over RTGS$1 million.

Harare magistrate, Hosea Mujaya ordered him to return the passport on March 30 before a judgment on his application challenging prosecution will be handed down.

Machengete wanted a longer time out of the country but prosecutor Zivanai Macharaga opposed his application on grounds that he had no cabinet approval.

“The accused has not brought Cabinet approval to show that he is travelling on government business, until he avails that document, the State challenges his application,” said the prosecutor.

Machengete at his last court appearance, applied for charges levelled against him to be dropped after the State altered its charge sheet.

The former Central Intelligence Organisation director administration was initially charged with criminal abuse but the charge has now been changed to “induce a procuring entity to engage in procurement by a method that is prohibited by the Act.”

It is Machengete’s argument that the new charge does not disclose a criminal offence.

The ruling was scheduled for this Monday but was postponed after the state indicated that it has not yet filed its submissions responding to Machengete’s complains.

Allegations are that sometime in December 2017, Potraz, a procuring entity, resolved to procure containerised village information centres (CVICs) which were going to be mounted countrywide.

On February 7, 2018, Machengete wrote to the Procurement Regulatory Authority of Zimbabwe (PRAZ) requesting a waiver of procurement regulations to enable the Authority to purchase CVICs through quotations citing that container conversion was a specialised area.

PRAZ responded directing Machengete to follow the provisions of section 30 of the Public Procurement and Disposal of Assets Act.

On February 15 however, Machengete is alleged to have caused the sourcing of quotations for the supply of the CVICs from four companies and a memo recommending the transaction he also approved.

Potraz subsequently purchased 24 CVICs from B Smart business solutions at $70 682.95 each making a total value of $ 1 494 104, 33 through comparative schedule.

This was despite that the value involved needed competitive bidding method in terms of the said Act and regulations Machengete had been directed to follow by PRAZ.

On April 6, Machengete then signed the contract between Potraz and B Smart solutions for the purchase and supply of the CVICs.Court heard B Smart Solutions has since erected 20 CVICs and Machengete has since paid $1 032 755. 38.

Machengete acted without lawful excuse by inducing Potraz a procurement entity in terms of the Act to engage in procurement of CVICs using quotation method that is prohibited by the Act in view of the price of the procurement requirement.