The Zimbabwe Anti-Corruption Commission (Zacc) has suffered a huge blow in its quest to record meaningful progress in the corruption fight following the acquittal of former Zesa Holdings chief executive Josh Chifamba yesterday on breach of duty and fraud charges.
Justice, Legal and Parliamentary Affairs Minister Ziyambi Ziyambi in
January this year blasted Zacc over its alleged failure to produce strong dockets to ensure successful prosecution of corruption suspects.
Chifamba was facing allegations of irregular awarding of a multi-milliondollar tender to a South Korean company, Techpro Company without
board approval, a charge which High Court judge Pisirayi Kwenda described as littered with a disharmony against State evidence presented in the docket.
Justice Kwenda in his ruling set aside the Magistrates Court’s dismissal of
Chifamba’s application for discharge (Case number ACC 24/19) and found
Chifamba not guilty of the charges.
“Instead of breach of duty being entering into the partnership between
Zesa and Techpro Company of South Korea without written approval from
Treasury, the trial magistrate had taken over the function of the state.
“Even the State could not competently perform the function at that stage.
The State had not preferred any charges against the applicant. No State outline was on record to speak to such charge,” Justice Kwenda ruled.
“In short, instead of the breach of duty being entering into a partnership without going to tender, the fresh charge which took the form of the trial magistrate’s ruling was that of entering into a partnership agreement without written Treasury approval.”
Justice Kwenda said if that is not proven gross irregularity violating
the proceedings and giving rise to a miscarriage of justice which cannot be
redressed by any other means, then one might as well discard that test.
In 2019, Chifamba and his two accomplices, former Energy Minister
Elton Mangoma and Tererai Mutasa faced allegations of awarding a US$3m
tender to Techpro Company without following proper procedure.
In his argument, Chifamba noted that he was not an accounting authority in terms of the Public Finance and Management Act and had no responsibility to ensure that tender procedures were followed.
Chifamba was represented by Admire Rubaya.
Chifamba, Mutasa and Mangoma were alleged to have connived to bypass the approval by the committee and the competitive bidding process
to favour Techpro Company by making sure that it automatically
became the partner in the technology transfer agreement.
The trio is said to have proceeded to award Techpro Company the
contract and, as a result, Zesa Enterprises made an initial payment
of US$850 000 to the South Korean company on the strength of the
technology transfer agreement.
It is further alleged that the deliverables of which the agreement
sought to achieve were not met at the time of the expiry of the fiveyear period, resulting in questions being raised over the deal.
The latest setback by Zacc comes after Zimbabwe Consolidated
Diamond Mining Company (ZCDC) former chief executive
Morris Mpofu was cleared by the courts on corruption charges.
To date Zacc has failed to record meaningful convictions as some
cases have been thrown out over lack of evidence while others went
to court without complainants