By Tarisai Machakaire
Jailed ex-minister Samuel Undenge yesterday advised a Harare Magistrates’ Court that he will apply for bail at the High Court following his conviction for criminal abuse of office.
Undenge, who was sentenced to four years in prison, withdrew an application for bail pending appeal he intended to lodge at the Harare Magistrates’ Court saying that the lower court was delaying hearing his appeal.
There are no restrictions on the High Court to entertain an application for bail even before first filing a regular application before a magistrate having jurisdiction, and get it rejected for the purpose of approaching the High Court, provided, accused is in custody.
Undenge was represented by Alec Muchadehama who had initially served prosecution with the requisite notice of appeal on Tuesday with indications that he would return to the court yesterday to make a full bail application.
“Your worship I have instructions to move my client’s bail application from these courts to the High Court,” Muchadehama told regional magistrate Hosea Mujaya.
Prosecutor Jonathan Murombedzi did not lodge any objections and the matter was struck off the roll.
Undenge is challenging a four-year jail term imposed on him by Mujaya, following his conviction for prejudicing the Zimbabwe Power Company (ZPC) of over $12 000 through an irregularly issued tender. He was last week sentenced to four years behind bars, before one year and six months were set aside on condition of good behaviour.
Undenge becomes the first high profile conviction since President Emmerson Mnangagwa came into power through the assistance of the army last November.
He is among a list of former Cabinet ministers who were arrested in the aftermath of the removal of Robert Mugabe. In his ruling, Mujaya, said that Undenge, who had denied the allegations, knowingly authorised a public relations contract that prejudiced the power utility of over $12 000.
Mujaya said although Undenge had laid the blame on the contracted company’s owners, Psychology Maziwisa and Oscar Pambuka of cheating him into signing a letter authorising them to do public relations work, he could not deny he was the one who authored the letter.
The magistrate said Undenge should have known better as a minister and as a government servant and ought to have been a good steward.
Undenge was facing charges that relate to a contract that was awarded to Maziwisa and Pambuka’s company, Fruitful Communications, for publicity work quoted at $12 650 in January 2016.
The two never fulfilled the obligation, the State said.
Maziwisa and Pambuka are also facing fraud charges in separate court proceedings.
It was the State’s case that sometime in January 2016, Maziwisa and Pambuka brought a letter to ZPC from 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 managing director Noah Gwariro and ZPC public relations officer Fadzayi Chisveto to do publicity work.
It was further said in court that on March 8, 2016, Maziwisa and Pambuka, intending to defraud ZPC, presented to Chisveto an invoice claiming they had hosted various programmes on Zimbabwe Broadcasting Corporation, National FM and Power FM. -DailyNews