Supa Mandiwanzira trial in false start

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By Mary Taruvinga

THE trial of former Information Communication Technology (ICT) Minister Supa Mandiwanzira failed to commence again after he made requests for release of further documents from the state inorder to craft his defence.

Mandiwanzira is facing criminal abuse of office charges after he allegedly engaged, during his time in government, a South African firm, Megawatt, to provide services to NetOne without going to tender.

The ex-minister is also accused of appointing his personal assistant, Tawanda Chinembiri to the Postal Telecommunications and Regulatory Authority of Zimbabwe (Potraz) board.

Through his lawyer Thembinkosi Magwaliba, Mandiwanzira asked for a postponement to allow the state to furnish him with several documentation in order to prepare his defence.

“We require tender documents of contract between NetOne and Huawei, relating to supply of network expansion and modernisation. We want to know what the accused abused his powers by engaging Megawatt.

“We also want tittle deeds in respect of a company Blue Nightingale which is believed to be Megawatt subsidiary because the state alleges the accused was benefitting from the company,” said Magwaliba.
He said the documents will assist him in crafting his defence.

Mandiwanzira also requested for audits reports, State Procurement Board documents and correspondence between NetOne and Reserve Bank of Zimbabwe among other papers.

“There is a statement by one of the witnesses, Reward Kangai explaining how he established the accused had interests in Megawatt. He is going to talk about the issue of the title deed in this court, yet the defence never had sight of it,” he said.

However, the state led by Tapiwa Godzi crushed his applications saying the application was “a time-wasting gimmick.”

Godzi said the documents requested were irrelevant.

“It is my respectful submission that those documents are either not relevant to state’s case, not part of state case or the state is not in possession of the documents.

“We are not in possession of tender documents between NetOne and Huawei because that’s not the issue before the court.

“The issue is between the accused, Megawatt and Netone and as for minutes held by the ministry in 2016, they were in custody of the accused personal assistant.

“The request is not necessary because the defence had an excess of four days to prepare defence but its now making requests to buy time. The accused is just seeking for a postponement since he initially asked for a date in January, but this is not a remand court,” Godzi added before he begged the magistrate to trash Mandiwanzira’s application.

The magistrate postponed the case to this Friday for ruling.

Mandiwanzira’s trial was supposed to commence on December 10.

It however failed to start after his lawyers were served with state papers minutes before the trial.

Magwaliba is being assisted by Advocate Brian Hungwe and the two attorneys are being instructed by Selby Hwacha.