Former SPB boss Charles Kuwaza jumps 9 floors to his death
By Margaret Matibiri
Former State Procurement Board (SPB) chairperson Charles Tawonerera Kuwaza died on the spot yesterday morning in a case of suspected suicide after he reportedly jumped from the 9th floor of a Harare building.
Kuwaza reportedly leapt to his death from Club Chambers building in Harare.
It is said he had gone into the building to collect documents from his office to support his defence in a matter before the courts.
Kuwaza was facing five counts of corruption involving over $1 million and ZW$2,5 billion.
He was freed on $2 000 bail on March 24.
Sources at the scene of the tragedy said the former SPB boss went into his office at around 11am.
He left his wife who had accompanied him in their family car.
The wife made a follow-up about 40 minutes later after members of the public indicated that a man had apparently committed suicide. She discovered her husband’s lifeless body crushed on the tarmac.
Sources close to the family told our Harare Bureau that Kuwaza did not take lightly his arrest on corruption charges.
“When Kuwaza was arrested he got stressed while in police custody and fell sick. He was then put on life support and had to be remanded on his hospital bed.”
However, a woman identified as Sandy and believed to be Kuwaza’s daughter, tried to block everyone at the scene from talking to journalists or take pictures.
Police spokesperson Chief Superintendent Paul Nyathi yesterday confirmed the incident but declined to identify the deceased.
“The police are investigating circumstances in which a male adult is said to have jumped from the ninth floor of Club Chambers building in Harare and died,” he said.
“It is only after investigations are completed that we as the police will be able to identify the now deceased.”
Kuwaza was facing one count of theft, two counts of fraud and two counts of criminal abuse of duty as a public officer.
On count one, he allegedly received on behalf of the SPB a donation of a Toyota Land Cruiser Prado valued at $120 000 from the Reserve Bank of Zimbabwe. Instead of handing over the vehicle to SPB, he reportedly converted it to his personal use.
On count two, being a public officer, he allegedly acted contrary to his duties by ordering SPB’s payroll officers not to deduct Pay As You Earn from his taxable benefits.
This was done without proof of an appropriate tax directive from Zimra, resulting in the tax collector garnishing SPB’s accounts a total of $869 820 to recover the prejudice for untaxed benefits.
Kuwaza was the Permanent Secretary for Finance and Economic Development as well as the Ministry of Defence between 1994 and 2000.
He was at the helm of the SPB as chairperson from 2000. He was sacked from the state procurement agency in November 2015 after the Government resolved not to renew his contract and ordered an audit into the board’s operations.
The former SPB boss faced arrest in 2015 after he was reported to the police for alleged criminal abuse of office during his tenure bordering on tax evasion and unauthorised allowances.
He allegedly refused to comply with the directives of a Portfolio Committee on Mines and Energy after he reportedly refused to provide information that the committee required in exercising its oversight role. The Chronicle