HARARE – Former Energy Minister Elton Mangoma and two ZESA executives on Tuesday appeared in court charged with corruption for allegedly by-passing procurement procedures in 2011.

Mangoma, 63, ZESA CEO Joshua Chifamba, 63, and ZESA Enterprises Managing Director Tererai Luis Mutasa, 54, appeared before Harare magistrate Ruramai Chitumbura charged with criminal abuse of office.

They were remanded to January 29 on $1,000 bail each.

Prosecuting, Zivanai Macharaga alleged that sometime in 2010, Choi Young Jin of South Korean company, Techpro, met Mangoma at his offices in Harare. The pair agreed to enter into a technology transfer partnership between ZESA enterprises and Techpro for the manufacturing of switch gears – switches, fuses and circuit breakers used for controlling, regulating and switching on or off the electrical circuit in the electrical power system.

Mangoma is alleged to have instructed Mutasa to engage Techpro company with the view to establish a partnership. Mutasa then wrote to the State Procurement Board seeking advice on procedures to be followed in such partnerships.

The court was told that officials at the State Procurement Board (SPB) advised that section 49 of the repealed Procurement Regulations Act chapter 22.14 was the appropriate procurement procedure.

The State Enterprises Restructuring Agency (SERA), which had been referred to the matter by the SPB, advised Mutasa to prepare a memorandum, which Mangoma was supposed to submit to the Interministerial Committee on Commercialisation and Privatisation of Parastatals (IMCCPP), recommending the identification of a technical partner for the technological transfer through a competitive bidding process.

Prosecutors say Mutasa followed SERA’s recommendation until the business proposal memorandum and bid documents for tender were forwarded to Mangoma for recommendation and final approval by IMCCP.

On receiving the business proposal and bid documents for tender, the state alleges, Chifamba and Mangoma connived to bypass the approval by IMCCPP and the competitive bidding process as a means of ensuring that Techpro company would automatically become the partner in the technology transfer agreement.

In this pursuit, they allegedly chose to apply the provisions of Section 48 of the Public Finance and Management Act Chapter 12.19 which merely required the approval of Mangoma and Treasury.

Chifamba, who the state alleges was acting in common purpose with his fellow accused, recommended the approval of the Technology Transfer Agreement to Mangoma who went on to approve it in October 2011. Treasury approval was not sought.

It is alleged the approved document was given to Mutasa who then signed the agreement on behalf of ZESA Enterprises on October 25, 2011.

The trio is accused of acting illegally by using provisions they knew did not supersede the provisions of the repealed Procurement Regulation Act relating to competitive tenders and guidelines by SERA.