By Mary Taruvinga
FORMER minister Prisca Mupfumira will proceed to defence in a case she is being charged with criminal abuse of office involving abuse of tender processes at NSSA.
Harare magistrate however acquitted her alleged accomplice a NSSA top official Banarbas Matongera after the State failed to give sufficient evidence against him at the close of its case.
Nduna said there was evidence linking Mupfumira in the process that led to the US$3,5 million deal between NSSA and Drawcard Enterprises.
Nduna however ruled that Mupfumira cannot held responsible for board resolutions passed during her absence as it is former board chairperson Robin Vela who announced to the board that agreements must be entered into quickly.
The magistrate said the evidence of state witnesses in the Drawcard Enterprises meeting where Mupfumira is allegedly attended could only be shed to light if the former minister put to her defence to make it clear for the court in its ruling.
“There is the coming in of Drawcard Enterprises Private Limited on board. The evidence of the state witnesses state that accused called a meeting with Met bank to which Drawcard was then seen pitching up. The witnesses’ evidence if undisputed shows that there may be a case for accused 1 (Mupfumira) on the contracting of Draw Card,”
“A court does not convict those who did not appear before it. This is the sole reason why the court has not dealt much on the conduct of NSSA board in subverting tender procedures and participating as well in the contracting of Draw Card. No matter what the charge or where the trial, the principle that the prosecution must prove the guilt of the prisoner is part of the common law of England and no attempt to whittle it down can be entertained.”
“An accused must not be called to defend nothing against her. A prima facie case must be made first. The evidence of state witness at its best suggests that Mupfumira participated in events that led to the hand picking of Drawcard Enterprises. In the absence of her evidence, that clearly would amount to a case. A prima facie case has been established and it ought to be answered,” he said.
According to the state, it is alleged that Mupfumira and Matongera gave specific instructions to NSSA to proceed with a housing project named Mzenya Off-take housing scheme which ought to have been done in compliance with tender procedures.
Further it is charged they did so without Approval from NSSA Board of Directors. In so doing they are alleged to have engaged a company, Drawcard Enterprises Private limited without the NSSA Board approval and by-passed tender procedures, thereby showing undue favour to Drawcard Enterprises Pvt Ltd, conduct which amounted to criminal abuse of public office as proscribed by Section 174 of the Criminal Law (Codification & Reform Act) Act [Chapter 9:23].
However, in opposing the application for discharge in respect of Mupfumira they conceded that they made no case against Matongera