City bigwigs in court for $35m fraud

Dr Mahachi

Dr Mahachi

Fungai Lupande Court Reporter—
Former Harare town clerk Tendai Mahachi, waste water manager Simon Muserere and water director Christopher Zvobgo yesterday appeared in court facing charges of fraud involving $35 million.Muserere (47), who appeared on three separate records, was granted $1 300 bail, while Zvobgo (64), who is appearing on two records, was granted $800 bail. Mahachi (63) was granted $300 bail.

They are facing charges of fraud, criminal abuse of office and corruptly concealing a personal interest in a transaction.

They appeared before Harare magistrate Ms Barbara Chimboza.

The prosecutor Mr Sebastian Mutizirwa alleged that sometime in 2010, City of Harare started a programme to upgrade and rehabilitate sewer plants at Firle and Crowborough in Harare.

The programmes were spearheaded by Muserere and Zvobgo, who were responsible for waste water reticulation management.

Christopher Zvobgo

Christopher Zvobgo

Former city treasurer Micheck Mubvumbi, who is still at large, was to secure funds, while Mahachi was overally in charge of the programme.

Other city officials — Masiye Kapere, Wellington Janjazi, Paula Macharangwanda and Urayayi Mangwiro — who are also still at large, formed the procurement board.

During that time, City of Harare was governed by the Urban Councils Act Chapter 29:15, which set out tender procedures and the role of the procurement board.

In addition, City of Harare came up with a tender procedure award and administration of contracts and procurement of stores material manual.

The manual stated that procedures and regulations shall be used without exception in all departments for transparency.

It is alleged that Mahachi, Zvobgo and Muserere smuggled unregistered companies for the award of the contract for the Firle sewage works.

Muserere and Zvobgo hand picked Energy Resources Africa Consortium (ERAC) for a contract valued at $13 816 117, 10.

They manipulated the company name from Energy Resources Africa Consortium Trading to Portriver as a cover up.

On March 22, 2011 they corruptly awarded a tender to Sidal Engineering (Pvt) Ltd to the tune of $18 121 125, 10.

It is alleged that in early 2011, Muserere and Zvobgo prepared an unpriced bill of quantities for the work needed at Firle.

The contract was valued at $18 121 125, 16 and they also awarded a tender to ERAC to the tune of $13 816 117, 10.

On April 6, 2011, Sydney Hambara raised an invoice of $1 490 000 purporting that the work was complete when in actual fact nothing was done.

In February 2010, Muserere initiated that a new sewer line of 2,8 kilometres be constructed to upgrade Highlands sewer system.

He hand picked Showbyte Engineering (Pvt) Ltd, which was owned by his in-laws and gave it a tender worth $1 273 311, 28.

Directors of the company were sisters to Muserere’s wife and she would withdraw money deposited by City of Harare.

The company was awarded another tender worth $300 000.

City of Harare lost $35 000 619, 54.

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  • Cde Mzvinavhu(Prof)

    Public sector has lot to learn from the private sector if fraud and corruption are to be eradicated . The private shareholders and company directors in the private sector ensure that corporate governance structures are created to effectively control fraud and corruption. Many a times we read about fraud and corruption cases being dealt with in the private sector and culprits being taken to court or fired from their jobs. Private sector audits are regular to ensure crimes are dealt with timely. Governance structures enable audits to be effective. Most big companies have tip off anonymous systems where tips are given without whistle blowers being identified or victimized. But the public sector structures are devoid of effective governance structures. Audits are not regular and effective. When reports of fraud and corruption are mooted, it is difficult to pin down culprits , who then abuse their office clout and manage to wriggle out where governance structures are weak. Public sector culprits also know they have chances of being protected by the law because those accusing them are working from weak governance structures that don`t protect or produce evidence plausible in law courts. My point is that governance systems in the public sector must be improved to avoid fraud and corruption. If systems are robust effective, it becomes easier to convict the fingered, who may try to use their constitutional rights to protect their evils. Have we no reason to be reminded of a controversial case of a private sector executive who was fired but tried to enter a public office because the public sector has weak systems that cannot effectively detect culprits. While some try to politicize the issue of corruption and fraud, in practice we have seen that in municipalities controlled by an opposition party such weaknesses have also been fingered. It is therefore incumbent upon our three pillars of government, to wit, legislature, judiciary and cabinet to ensure effective governance structures are implemented in the public sector to enable our country to eradicate the evils of fraud and corruption in the public sector. With effective risks controls it even becomes easier for our police to investigate issues. Corruption and fraud are inimical to our national economic development. More so, in our case ,where we are also fighting economic sanctions burden.

    • succuba

      What is the “economic sanctions burden”?… please explain here for clarity.

      Let’s debate this here…

  • Muzezuru

    Very valid and true observations. Varungu zvese nevatema practise the things you have highlighted. It’s a sad state of affairs and we are doomed as a country. What makes it worse is that ZACC which is supposed to be policing these things is weak and compromised. The procurement of their offices being a case in point.

  • Cde Mzvinavhu(Prof)

    I agree with you that there are also private sector companies where fraud and corruption exists. But the level is not as high as public sector. It would appear to me that you are talking about private sector dealing with public institutions, you listed. Yes public sector companies over paying private suppliers. Its the public sector that suffers. That is what should be avoided. Where a private company is overpaying,it will go down. Hence they will necessarily find out why the business is dying and it will be corrected by instituting controls. Your experience with corrupt buyers shows that you were in the corrupt ring and in organizations with no good corporate governance structures. They are not the norm in the private sector. Its far better than public sector. Its not only Zim society that has corrupt cases . You have no experience outside our country. What of Kenya and Nigeria,even Tanzania where the current President is fighting corruption. If Tanzania did not have it ,then their President would have no corruption to fight. Whether he will kill it completely in Tanzania ,lets wait and see.