By Mary Taruvinga
FORMER ZBC presenter Oscar Pambuka and ex-Zanu PF legislator Psychology Maziwisa will challenge that the High Court their conviction and sentence for fleecing power utility the Zimbabwe Power Company (ZPC).
Defence lawyer Jonathan Samkange told Harare magistrate Lazini Ncube Thursday that his clients would seek “bail pending appeal at the High Court”.
“I believe there are prospects of success on both counts,” Samkange said after his clients were sentenced.
Tears welled up Maziwisa’s eyes and he tried hard to stop them rolling down his cheeks as relatives took turns to comfort him after he was sentenced to six and half years imprisonment.
For his part, Pambuka appeared expressionless and unusually calm as his own sentence was passed.
The two were accused of fleecing ZPC of about $12,000, while pretending to be carrying out public relations work through ZBC on behalf of the power utility.
Court heard that, Maziwisa and Pambuka would bill ZPC each time news broadcasts on ZBC’s platforms referenced the power utility, claiming they were responsible for the publicity.
Magistrate Ncube ruled that the State proved its case beyond reasonable doubt.
“It is surprising that one would claim money claiming that they caused the broadcasting of news articles,” the judge said Thursday.
“The accused have not shown the court that they had any agreement with ZBC.
“It is also not in dispute that they approached ZPC armed with a letter from the ex-minister Samuel Undenge authorising that they be paid.”
The judge added; “What this court has to determine is if the accused made any misrepresentations or not.
“The court’s findings are that ZPC was not supposed to be billed. The second accused (Pambuka) was not entitled to claim any money as he was already being paid by ZBC.
“This court’s view is that the State has managed to prove its case beyond reasonable doubt.”
During trial, Maziwisa and Pambuka insisted that they indeed carried out work for ZPC in line with government’s ZimAsset programme.
However, ZBC employees who testified against them told court that Pambuka – a news presenter – only read bulletins produced by reporters.
ZPC lost $12,000 paying the two through their company, Fruitful communications.
Prosecutor Michael Reza also proved that the power utility could have lost another $36,000 if investigations into their project had not started.
Court heard that two managed to defraud ZPC by hiding behind ex-minister Undenge’s name.
Undenge was convicted over the same case and sentenced to four years imprisonment. He is currently out of custody on bail pending appeal.