By Mary Taruvinga
Zimbabwe National Roads Administration (Zinara) finance director Mudzingwa Simon Taranhike was Thursday hauled before court facing criminal abuse of office charges after he unlawfully gave a local journalist 1 800 litres worth of petrol coupons.
Taranhike appeared before Harare magistrate Barbra Mateko.
He was not asked to plead and was released on free bail.
The court heard Taranhike allegedly pressured Zinara’s transport clerk Dennis Jaricha to unprocedurally release the fuel coupons, ignoring protocol.
The complainant is Zinara, represented by its legal officer, Frank Hwenhira.
It is the State’s case that on April 1, Zinara’s finance manager Anywhere Mudodo summoned Jaricha to his office.
“When Jaricha arrived at the office, he found Mudodo in the company of Taranhike, and accountant expenditure Stephen Matute,” reads the State outline.
It is alleged that Taranhike ordered Jaricha to explain the procedure of issuing fuel to external stakeholders, with him explaining that procedure entails request from user, recommendation from administration manager and approval of the chief executive officer.
Taranhike then instructed Jaricha to release 1 800 litres of fuel coupons to the journalist.
On the day in question, the CEO Mathlene Mujokoro and admin manager Peter Boterere were not in the office.
Jaricha advised Taranhike to inquire from the CEO’s personal assistant Rennie Humanikwa if approval to issue fuel to an external stakeholder could be granted.
Humanikwa indicated that she has no capacity to approve the request since her office had not yet received the request, court heard.
Taranhike allegedly insisted that Jaricha issues the fuel and under enormous pressure, the latter tried to contact Boterere who was not answering his mobile phone.
On the same day, Taranhike went to Mudodo’s office and advised him that the journalist will come and collect the fuel from Redan.
He also allegedly directed Mudodo to contact the scribe and inform him to come and collect the petrol coupons.
It is the State’s case that the scribe drove to the Zinara offices in Highlands where Mudodo led him to the boardroom where Jaricha handed him the fuel coupons.
The State also alleges that the scribe signed the issue voucher and fuel requisition book as acknowledgement of receipt.
During the same day Mujokoro received a phone call informing her about the release before ordering Jaricha to write a report.
As a result, the State alleges Zinara suffered actual prejudice of Z$6 354 and nothing was recovered.