By Mary Taruvinga
FORMER Energy Minister and opposition politician, Elton Mangoma says he was being politically victimised in a case in which he is being accused of flouting tender procedures when he was still in government.
Mangoma is jointly charged with ex-Zimbabwe Electricity Supply Authority (ZESA) top executives, Joshua Chifamba and Tererai Lewis Mutasa.
Their trial on criminal abuse of office commenced Thursday with the three all denying the charges.
In his defence, Mangoma says the charges were aimed at tarnishing his political image.
“The accused will deny the allegations. He will state that he did not engage in any conduct or act inconsistently with his duties. He never showed any favour to Techpro as alleged,” said Mangoma’s lawyer Tonderai Bhatasara.
“The allegations are designed to harass him politically and have nothing to do with the commission of any known crime.”
Chifamba and Mutasa also denied the allegations saying, “It would be wrong to suggest that it was a loss to pay Techpro.”
“The third accused states that these allegations are clearly malicious and vexatious which are being raised by those who do not appreciate the process of law followed during the process,” said Chifamba’s lawyer Admire Rubaya.
According to the state, allegations against Mangoma arose in 2010 when he was the country’s energy minister.
Chifamba was ZESA Chief Executive Officer while Mutasa was the managing director at the power generating parastatal.
Court heard sometime in 2010, Choi Young Jin of Techpro Company Ltd of South Korea met Mangoma at his government offices in Harare.
Mangoma and the company’s representatives allegedly entered into an agreement to venture into Technology Transfer Partnership for the manufacturing of switch gears.
It is State’s case that Mangoma then instructed Mutasa to liaise with Techpro Company with a view to establishing a partnership.
Court heard Mutasa then wrote to the State Procurement Board (SPB) seeking advice on procedures to be followed in such partnerships.
“Mutasa was purportedly advised to proceed in terms of Section 49 of the Repealed Procurement Regulations Act chapter 22.14.
“He was also advised to seek assistance from State Enterprises Restructuring Agency (SERA) on how to proceed,” the State alleges.
The court heard SERA advised Mutasa to prepare a memorandum which Mangoma was supposed to submit to the Inter-Ministerial Committee on Commercialisation and Privatisation of Parastatals (IMCCPP) recommending the identification of a technical partner for the technological transfer through competitive bidding process.
Court further heard Mutasa complied with the instructions being assisted by SERA up to a stage where business proposal memorandum and bid documents for tender were forwarded to Mangoma for recommendation and final approval by IMCCP.
It is also alleged that on receiving the business proposal and bid documents for tender, Chifamba and Mangoma connived to bypass the approval by IMCCPP and the competitive bidding process as a means of showing favour and making sure that Techpro company would automatically become the partner in the Technology Transfer agreement.
They then decided to apply the provisions of Section 48 of the Public Finance and Management Act Chapter 12.19 which requires the approval of Mangoma and the treasurer.
Acting in common purpose, says the state, the trio recommended the approval of Technology Transfer Agreement to Mangoma.
Court heard the ex-minister went on to approve it on October 24 2011 at Zesa Holdings head office but omitted the approval by treasury.
Pursuant to their plan, the State says, the approved document was given to Mutasa who then signed the agreement on behalf of Zesa enterprises on October 25 2011.