By Prosper Dembedza
Zimbabwe Mineral Development Corporation (ZMDC) acting general manager Luke Akino was yesterday jailed for effective two years for corruptly awarding a $168 000 consultancy services contract to his acquaintance
Harare regional magistrate Mr Hosea Mujaya initially sentenced Akino to three years’ imprisonment before suspending one year on condition of good behaviour.
In mitigation Akino’s defence Mr Muyengwa Motsi told the court that his client was a first offender and a family man.
Mr Motsi pleaded for a non-custodial sentence. During aggravation prosecutor Mr Michael Reza called for a custodial sentence arguing that a non-custodial one would trivialise the matter.
He said the accused was facing a serious offence and that cases of criminal abuse of office were on the increase.
“The court must send a clear message that corruption does not pay. The State prays for a seven-year jail term of which two years should be suspended on condition of good behaviour and the accused serve five years effective in prison, “said Mr Reza.
In passing sentence Mr Mujaya concurred that the accused person was a first offender and a family man but he was quick to point out that Akino was facing a serious offence, which calls for a custodial sentence.
The State led by Mr Reza told the court that sometime in July 2017, ZMDC received $7 million from Fidelity Printers through its then acting general manager Mr Garikai Chimhina for the resuscitation of Jena Mine, a wholly-owned subsidiary of ZMDC, which was facing operational challenges.
He said sometime in August 2017, the ZMDC board chaired by the late David Murangari appointed Akino as acting general manager and he influenced ZMDC to engage Thomas Mushungupa’s company called Mushungupa and Muhita Engineering Projects (Pvt) Ltd to resuscitate Jena Mine.
The court heard that his actions favoured his acquaintance and former Bindura Nickel Corporation workmate Mushungupa.
On September 28 the same year, Akino, acting on instructions from Murangari, invited Mushungupa to discuss the scope of work that was to be undertaken at Jena Mine.
The court heard that a meeting was convened on October 19 by the legal, audit and risk committee where Akino indicated that he was considering enlisting the services of an independent mining contractor to address the mining challenges at Jena Mine through an informal tender.
The court had that sometime in October of the same year, Akino and Murangari engaged the service of Mushungupa and Muhita Engineering Projects to carry out the project at a cost of $168 126 without following tender procedures as stipulated in the Procurement Act.
On November 20, Murangari ordered Jena Mine to pay Mushungupa and Muhita Engineering $25 252 before signing the project management agreement contract and on the next day, the company started work without a contract.
The court heard that on March 22 last year, Akino signed a contract on behalf of Jena Mine when Mushungupa had already begun work four months prior to the signing date.
Investigations revealed that Mushungupa had worked with Akino at Bindura Nickel Mine in 1995 and with Murangari at the same mine from 2007 2016.
Akino and Murangari’s engagement of Mushungupa’s company, in the absence of competition and evidence of due diligence on costs contrary to sections of Procurement Act, violated tender procedures. The Herald