By Nyore Madzianike
The trial of former Cabinet minister Prisca Mupfumira, accused of ordering the National Social Security Authority (NSSA) to fast track a contract to build low cost houses in Gweru without NSSA board approval or following tender processes, has opened.
Yesterday, her defence outline to the trial court said that the allegations originated during the Zanu PF factional fighting in 2017 and were designed to get her out of political life as she was seen as a strong supporter of then Vice President Mnangagwa.
Mupfumira, who was being represented by lawyer Mr Admire Rubaya, said during that period, she became a target for persecution that resulted in her successor in the Ministry of Public Service, Labour and Social Welfare, Mr Patrick Zhuwao, raising the allegations against her and manipulating facts.
She told the court that the allegations were raised soon after attending the launch of the Muzenya Suburb Housing Scheme in Gweru, which was attended by then Vice President Mnangagwa.
Mupfumira is jointly charged with Barnabas Matongera who was the director of contributions, collections and compliances at NSSA.
“These charges are malicious, frivolous and vexatious only meant to tarnish her image and deem her political career which was at its twilight.
“The investigation of the matter was compromised against her whilst shielding those that ought to have provided answers to whatever questions the State has concerning the NSSA and Drawcard Enterprises (Pvt) Limited off-take agreement,” her defence team said when denying the charges.
“The complaint was allegedly made when it was not fashionable to support the current Head of State during the last days of the Old Dispensation particularly during the interface rallies where there was a choreographed and systematic onslaught of the current Head of State.
Mupfumira said she became a target after she attended the official launch of the Muzenya Suburb Housing Scheme in Gweru with the current Head of State, who was the Vice President then, on or about 7 September 2017 at the invitation of the NSSA board of directors.
“The First Accused (Mupfumira) asserts that the housing project was commissioned by the current Head of State in the presence of Dr Joram Gumbo, other Government ministers and the Zanu PF Midlands Province Leadership.
“This attendance did not mean she had been involved in the processes leading to the alleged agreement between NSSA and Drawcard Enterprises (Pvt) Limited,” she said.
Mupfumira said she was not connected to the directors at Drawcard Enterprises (Pvt) Limited and was never involved in the running of NSSA. She denied giving specific instructions to the NSSA management on the investments projects and noted that while the charge uses the term ‘NSSA Management’, it does not specify who exactly was allegedly given the alleged instructions.
Mupfumira also denied giving Matongera instructions to enter into any off-take housing projects contracts on behalf of NSSA without board approval.
The matter is expected to continue on May 26 with Chihota testifying.
Harare regional magistrate Mr Ngoni Nduna presided while Mr Lovert Masuku and Whisper Mabhaudhi appeared for the State. The Herald