Undenge alleges political persecution

Minister Without Power: Dr Samuel Undenge
Former Minister Without Power: Dr Samuel Undenge

The ex-Energy and Power Development minister is facing criminal abuse of office charges.

He was represented by Alec Muchadehama and Dumisani Mthombeni when he appeared before Harare regional magistrate Hosea Mujaya for continuation of his trial.

The State is alleging that on January 14, 2016, Undenge gave a directive to the Zimbabwe Power Company (ZPC) to engage Fruitful Communications run by television personality Oscar Pambuka and politician, Psychology Maziwisa, without going to tender.

Deputy chief secretary (Modernisation) in the President’s Office Ray Clinton Ndlukula who testified against Undenge on Tuesday said the former minister breached set procedures and authorised a contract that prejudiced the State of $12 650.

Conversely, during cross examination by Mthombeni, Ndlukula said Undenge could not have authorised the payment because it was not the duty of the minister but that of ZPC’s chief executive officer who doubled up as the Zesa Holdings’ subsidiary’s chief accounting officer.

“I put it to you that you are a political appointee and came here to paint the accused person in bad light to impress your authorities and anyone else behind his arrest,” Mthombeni said.

“You are equally aware that the permanent secretary, group chief executive officer and ZPC chairperson were involved in this procedure at some point but never raised any objections at the material time.

“My client was simply made to append a signature to a letter that came from then vice president Emmerson Mnangagwa which was used by Maziwisa and Pambuka to attain the said tender.”

According to the State, Maziwisa and Pambuka are director and media executive, respectively, at Fruitful Communications.

Sometime in January 2016, Maziwisa and Pambuka brought a letter to ZPC from former Energy minister Undenge directing the company to work with Fruitful Communications at intervals of six months per engagement.

During that month, Maziwisa and Pambuka entered into a verbal agreement with ZPC which was represented by Noah Gwariro, the company’s managing director, and Fadzai Chisveto, its public relations executive, to do publicity work.

The court heard that on February 12, 2016, Fruitful Communications hosted a ZimAsset conference at Miekles Hotel where Undenge was the guest of honour and the event was covered by the national broadcaster.

It was further alleged that on March 8 Maziwisa and Pambuka, intending to defraud ZPC, presented to Chisveto an invoice claiming they had hosted various programmes on ZBC, National FM and Power FM.

Maziwisa and Pambuka claimed that Fruitful Communications had caused the programmes to be aired on radio and television and claimed $12 650.

The duo was paid $12 650 and prejudiced ZPC the full amount, and nothing was recovered.  DailyNews