‘Unrepentant’ CAAZ boss denied bail

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By Mary Taruvinga

CIVIL Aviation Authority of Zimbabwe (CAAZ) chief executive, David Chawota was Thursday denied bail by a Harare magistrate.

Chawota is accused of criminal abuse of office after he fraudulently awarded a €27 900 000 contract to a Spanish company, Indra Sistemus, which did not meet minimum requirements during bidding.

Harare magistrate Rumbidzai Mugwagwa denied Chawota bail on grounds that he was not repentant.

Chaota has a pending similar case before the courts.

Last month, Chawota was admitted to bail in another corruption related charge after he allegedly authorised payment of $56 042, 76 for promotional material to a company he had interests in without doing a comparative analysis.

“The accused is also threatening and interfering with State witnesses. Therefore he is not a proper candidate for bail,” ruled Mugwagwa.

The investigating officer Lawrence Mashawi, who testified, had told court that Chawota is not complying with his existing bail conditions and is threatening witnesses.

Court heard Chawota has been threatening senior employees against cooperating with investigations on the current matter.

The IO said workers fear that Chawota will terminate their contracts if they cooperate with investigations.

The cop also told court that in 2016, Chawota terminated contracts of executives after they cooperated with police in a matter involving him.

Allegations are that sometime in May 2013, Chawota floated tenders for air traffic control systems.

It is alleged that one of the bidders which had submitted bids for the Radar Surveillance Systems, Selex Es, challenged the award to Indra Sistemas resulting in the cancellation of the award by the Supreme Court in January 2016.

The State alleges that Chawota persisted in requesting the direct appointment on Indra Sistemas, defying the Supreme Court ruling that nullified the previous award to the same company.

Chawota allegedly continued to defy the board and Supreme Court ruling secretly engaging with Indra Sistemus.

He allegedly continued to solely engage the company and met with Indra officials without approval, at the Reserve Bank, on his own.

The State alleges that the award was granted wherein Chawota was directed to carry out due diligence before the engagement.

It is the State’s case that Chawota travelled to Spain in December 2017 to purportedly conduct due diligence in the company of Blessing Ngwarai but went on to sign a contract with Indra valued at €27 900 000.

Despite Chawota’s assertions that Indra Sistemus had the funding, court heard that the company failed to implement the project due to lack of funds and Chawota is now engaging the Afrexim Bank to provide funds.