By Fidelis Munyoro
Former Minister Supa Mandiwanzira heaved a sigh of relief yesterday after the High Court acquitted him on one of the criminal abuse of office charges involving a $218 million auditing contract signed by NetOne and a South African company.
Justice Nicholas Mathonsi granted the defence application for review of the trial court proceedings, in which Mandiwanzira sought to set aside the charge relating to procurement of services from the South African-based Megawatt Energy.
Mandiwanzira was accused of unprocedurally cherry-picking Megawatt Energy to investigate a $218 million contract that was signed by former NetOne chief executive Reward Kangai.
The Nyanga South legislator had denied all the charges and was cleared of the first count.
He now faces one charge involving the appointment of his personal assistant Tawanda Chinembiri, a civil servant at director level, to the Postal and Telecommunications Regulatory Authority (Potraz) board and Universal Services Fund in violation of corporate governance principles.
Charges against Mandiwanzira were that on June 26, 2013, Kangai and a Chinese company Huawei Technologies entered into a contract for the supply of network expansion and modernisation equipment to the tune of $218 954 843.
After signing the contract, NetOne secured a loan with China Exim Bank through the Finance Ministry then represented by former minister Patrick Chinamasa. It was alleged that on January 19, 2015, Megawatt Energy, a South African company owned by Lui Xiadong wrote to Mandiwanzira, seeking a meeting with him. Mandiwanzira agreed to engage Megawatt supposedly on a pro bono basis.
Megawatt, it was alleged, jointly owned a property in Johannesburg with Mandiwanzira’s company Blue Nightingale. Mandiwanzira engaged Megawatt without going to tender and in the absence of a contract, according to the State case. The Herald