By Prosper Dembedza
The trial of former Minister of Energy and Power Development Elton Mangoma, Zesa chief executive Joshua Chifamba and managing director of Zesa Enterprises Tererai Mutasa, who allegedly entered into a technology transfer partnership with a South Korean company Techpro Company Limited for the manufacturing of switch gears without due process, kicked off on Thursday with the trio pleading not guilty.
The three are facing charges of criminal abuse of office.
The trial commenced with the trio’s lawyers reading their defence outlines before Harare magistrate Mr Francis Mapfumo. In his defence outline read by his lawyer Mr Tonderai Bhatasara, Mangoma denied hatching a plan with the other two accused persons.
“The first accused will deny categorically that he hatched a plan with the other accused persons to disregard advise by the State Procurement Board and State Enterprises Restructuring Agency (SERA) as the advice was not given to him and was not for him to act on,” reads part of Mangoma’s defence outline.
“He will challenge the State to provide proof of connivance.”
Reading his client’s defence outline, Mutasa’s lawyer Advocate Givemore Madzoka said his client did not connive with anyone to evade the provisions of any applicable law relating to the entering into the alleged contract.
In his defence outline read by his lawyer Mr Admire Rubaya, Chifamba said he never intentionally acted unlawfully as being alleged.
“His actions were clearly in terms of the relevant approvals from the relevant authorities and as such he should not be persecuted for executing his duties in terms of the law,” reads Chifamba’s defence outline.
“There is absolutely nothing done by the third accused person designed to show favour of Techpro company Ltd of South Korea in the manner alleged.”
Prosecutor Mr Zivanai Macharaga said the trio allegedly entered into a technology transfer partnership with a South Korean company Techpro Company Limited for the manufacture of switch gears without due process.
Five years down the line, Techpro Company failed to execute the project after getting an initial payment of $850 000. The State is alleging that this happened in 2010 when Choi Young Jin of Techpro Company met Mangoma at his offices in Harare.
They signed a technology transfer partnership between Zesa Enterprises and Techpro for the manufacturing of the switch gears.
Mangoma allegedly instructed Mutasa to liaise with Techpro with a view of establishing the partnership. The court heard that Mutasa wrote to the State Procurement Board seeking advice on the procedures to be followed in such partnerships.
He was advised to proceed with Section 49 of the repealed procurement regulations act Chapter 22:14. Mutasa was further advised to seek assistance from State Enterprises Restructuring Agency (SERA) on how to proceed.
SERA advised Mutasa to prepare a memorandum for Mangoma to submit to Inter-Ministerial Committee on Commercialisation and Privatisation of Parastatals (IMCCP) recommending the identification of a technical partner for the technological transfer through a competitive bidding process.
On receiving the proposal and bid documents for tender, Chifamba and Mangoma allegedly connived to bypass the approval by IMCCP and the competitive bidding process and favoured Techpro company. The Herald