HARARE – Former Information Communication Technology Minister Supa Mandiwanzira on Thursday declined to plead to charges of criminal abuse of office when he appeared before Harare provincial magistrate Elijah Makomo.
Through his lawyer, Advocate Thembinkosi Magwaliba assisted by Advocate Brian Hungwe, Mandiwanzira made an application for exception to the charges, saying they were not valid given that NetOne (Pvt) Ltd is not a ministry, department or other division of government, a statutory body or a local authority whose procurement procedures are governed by the State.
The journalist turned businessman and politician is alleged to have attempted to cause NetOne to pay $5 million to Megawatt Company, based in South Africa, for consultancy services without going to tender on the first count. He faces a second charge of appointing his personal assistant to the POTRAZ board.
“NetOne was not a public enterprise in respect of which the procurement regulations or the Procurement Act applied as at February 15, 2015, when it is alleged that Megawatt was engaged. Accordingly, the accused person cannot be charged of violating government procurement procedures in respect of an entity which was not covered by the procurement laws,” Mandiwanzira submitted.
“Statutory instrument 160/2012 removed NetOne from the list of public enterprises that were deemed to be procuring entities. The accused person cannot be charged of having committed a criminal offence by engaging Megawatt Company without going to tender.”
Mandiwanzira also told the magistrate that he was not served with further particulars as directed by the court the last time he appeared.
The ruling on the exception application will be delivered on February 14.