By Court Reporter
ZIMBABWE National Road Administration (ZINARA) technical director, Moses Julius Juma has been hauled before the courts to answer to abuse of office charges stemming from claims he handpicked a tax consultancy company for a contract worth over $US500 000 back in 2014.
His suspected accomplice, Davison Norupiri, the company’s Finance Committee chairperson, escaped the dock after he was turned into a state witness.
The two once made headlines in 2016 after then Vice President Phelekezela Mphoko stormed a Harare police station in which they had been detained for the alleged offence and ordered their release.
Those who witnessed the incident said Mphoko imposed his authority in front of puzzled police officers while saying, “I am the VP of the country and I want you to let my boys go”.
His conduct invited widespread condemnation and laid bare, the then Robert Mugabe led government’s complicity with corrupt elements.
With Mphoko now having fallen by the wayside, his allies are back in the hands of the law.
Juma’s trial was supposed to start on Monday but it was postponed after he told court that he was too sick to stand trial.
He told court he was suffering from serious hypertension adding that his blood pressure has been too high for some time.
Prosecuting, chief law officer Chris Mutangadura consented to the postponement after the medical affidavit was tendered in court, but he however promised that the same will not happen on next court date.
“As prosecution for special court, we have been advised against postponing cases needlessly. This case has already been postponed twice and on the next date the trial should start,” he said.
The case was postponed to July 27 for trial commencement.
According to court papers, the complainant is the state, being represented by Samson Mutanhaurwa, the acting principal officer of the State Procurement Board (SPB).
Juma was the acting Chief Executive Officer of ZINARA when he allegedly committed the offence.
It is state’s case that sometime in 2014, ZINARA had a tax obligation with Zimbabwe Revenue Authority (ZIMRA) amounting to $US15,418,133.
As a result, ZIMRA garnished $US5,714,587 on a ZINARA account leaving the balance of $US9, 703,546.
A report was made to the ZINARA board by the management for guidance to reduce tax obligations and the company tasked the finance committee chaired by Davison Norupiri to engage a tax consultancy firm.
Three tax consultancy firms namely Misfort Tax Consultancy, Excel Tax Consultancy and Central Source Management Consultancy trading as Tax management Services were shortlisted to make presentations for tax health checks services.
On September 23 same year, the three made the presentations and the finance committee recommended Tax Management Services to the procurement committee.
Three days later, the committee held a meeting with the full board and presented their decision.
The accused, who was the accounting officer went on to engage Tax Management Services for the tax health checks and ZINARA was charged $US17 250.
The accused, without board approval, went on to engage Tax Management Services for other tax advisory services without following proper tender procedures resulting in ZINARA making payment of $US577 250 for the company.
The offence came to light during an audit by the Auditor General’s office.
The audit team discovered that there was no contract between ZINARA and the company.
To cover up for the offence, the accused went on to sign the contract in retrospect and caused finance manager Shadreck Matengabadza to sign as a witness.
The director Administration Precious Murove refused to sign the contract in retrospect.