By Nokuthaba Nkomo
A Harare magistrate deferred until next week a decision on whether to release a passport to ex-Cabinet minister Supa Mandiwanzira, facing charges of criminal abuse of office.
Mandiwanzira, who was ICT minister, is facing charges of allegedly engaging a South African company Megawatt to do consultancy work for NetOne and appointed his allegedly unqualified personal assistant to the Postal and Telecommunications Regulatory Authority (Potraz) board.
Prosecutors argued against the bail application, saying Mandiwanzira posed a flight risk and could skip the court’s jurisdiction if he gets his passport back.
He has offered to surrender an additional property worth $100 000 as surety in a bid to convince the courts that he does not intend to abscond trial.
Mandiwanzira has already surrendered another property worth $100 000 as part of his bail conditions.
The court will rule on March 25 because magistrate Elijah Makomo who was presiding over the case was tied up.
Through his lawyer Thembinkosi Magwaliba, Mandiwanzira sought the release of his passport to enable him to travel to China for a crucial business trip.
Magwaliba submitted that his client was not a flight risk after he handed himself over to the police when he landed from China in November last year.
“If the court wants additional surety, my client is willing to surrender additional security of a value of not less than $100 000, which is equivalent to the surety he initially surrendered,” Magwaliba said.
He also said Mandiwanzira’s business must not suffer “because he is facing criminal allegations.”
Magwaliba added that the reporting conditions are hindering the ex-minister from effectively representing his constituency.
“Nyanga South Constituency is about 300km from Harare and in order to represent his constituency, he needs to travel there regularly. This stifles his work as he has to travel back to Harare just to report to the police,” he said.
Mandiwanzira was ordered to report twice a week at Borrowdale Police Station. Daily News.