By Panashe Machakaire
Former Information Communication Technology (ICT) Minister Supa Mandiwanzira’s application for the permanent release of his passport was yesterday thrown out by court.
Mandiwanzira stands accused of criminal abuse of office after he allegedly appointed his personal assistant (PA), Tawanda Chinembiri, to the Postal and Telecommunications Regulatory Authority of Zimbabwe (Potraz) board.
Mandiwanzira appeared before Harare Regional Magistrate Mr Elijah Makomo.
Through his lawyers, Mandiwanzira had applied for relaxation of his bail conditions, seeking the permanent release of his passport based on changed circumstances.
He said that he wanted to travel abroad to seek medical treatment in addition to attending an e-Learning summit.
However, magistrate Makomo said no sufficient reasons had been given to release the passport.
“The invitation was delivered to the accused in 2018, it is common cause that the accused was ICT minister last year.
“No explanation has been made on whether this invitation was extended to him in his personal capacity or as the minister of ICT. That aside, if he even he is no longer the minister, nothing stops him from attending the conference if he so wishes. What is crucial is that the conference is in October, six months from now.
“The court’s analysis is that no sufficient reasons were given to establish the importance of the release of the passport. In these circumstances, the application is hereby dismissed,” he said.
Prosecuting, Mr Michael Chakandida had said Mandiwanzira’s intentions were to flee the court’s jurisdiction.
The matter was deferred to June 3.
Allegations are that Mandiwanzira was appointed minister in 2014 and was entitled to engage a personal assistant and driver of his own choice. In March 2015, Mandiwanzira hired Chinembiri, who was employed at AB Communications as head of finance and business development, as his personal assistant.
It is alleged on February 3, 2016, Mandiwanzira appointed Chinembiri as the ministry’s representative to sit on both Potraz and Universal Services Fund board meetings. Chinembiri allegedly received $35 000 in board allowances.
It is the State’s case that Mandiwanzira acted contrary to his duties as a public officer. The Herald