UPDATED: Council official up for tender fraud

Harare City Council

Harare City Council

Fungai Lupande Senior Court Reporter
Harare City Council manager for waste water Engineer Simon Takawira Muserere yesterday appeared in court on allegations of awarding a tender of over $1,5 million for the rehabilitation of Highlands and Chadcombe sewer systems to a company owned by his in-laws.

Showbyte Engineering (Pvt) Ltd, is owned by his mother-in-law, brother-in-law and sister-in-law. It was reportedly established in March 2010 and awarded the tender the following month. It is also alleged that at the time it did not have offices and machinery.

Muserere (43) pleaded not guilty to two counts of corruptly concealing from a principal a personal interest in a transaction. In his defence, through his lawyer Mr Admire Rubaya, Muserere denied initiating the projects and arranging the alleged selective tendering by hand-picking prospective buyers.

“Accused will challenge the State to prove that Showbyte Engineering (Pvt) Ltd is owned by his in-laws. State has no proof that accused’s wife had the withdrawing rights from the company,” said Mr Rubaya.

“State is challenged to show the accused’s involvement in the transactions of the company in question. The allegations are malicious, frivolous and vexatious and a clear abuse of the justice system by overzealous investigators who don’t have adequate evidence.”

The first State witness, Ms Josephine Ncube, who was the acting town clerk, said Muserere failed to declare a personal interest while handling a transaction involving his employer and a company owned by his relatives.

“In line with good corporate governance and the code of ethics, he was supposed to notify in writing his interest and recuse himself from any meeting and refrain from making decisions in the matter,” said Ms Ncube.

“If a council official declares his personal interest years after his company has been awarded tender, he falls foul of the requirement. If it’s true that the company Showbyte Engineering was registered in March, 2010 and was awarded the tender in April, didn’t have any offices, machinery and expertise, then it didn’t qualify because it didn’t have a track record,” she said.

Prosecuting, Mr Michael Reza alleged that between February and August 2010 Muserere awarded a tender worth $1 273 311, 28 for the upgrading of the Highlands sewer system to Showbyte, a company owned by his in-laws.

He allegedly failed to declare his principal interest in the selective tender process, intending to deceive his employer. It is alleged that Muserere also awarded the same company a contract to construct 800 meter sewer in Chadcombe to the tune of $300 000. Trial continues on January 24.

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  • Chamunorwa

    wonderful. Perhaps these arrests will prevent some of the worst forms of corruption in our country.

    • Alfred Mwamuka

      Send them to jail.This is the only way forward.Corruption was getting out of hand.

  • Emerald

    The prosecution must carefully build their case to avoid bungling. It’s a tip of the iceberg. More abuse of systems that was happening at the local authority that should be exposed.

  • Moe_Scyslack2

    This wouldn’t happen if the City has ironclad tender procedures and assessment of bidders. You can’t form a company today with zero track record and get awarded a $1.5m tender the following month.

  • Progressive Zimbabwean

    @herald, there is an article in which the permanent secretary for Local Government George Magosvonge is telling residents to pay for bills. I read it earlier online and it has just disappeared. I feel this Magosvonge guy is misinformed. Residents have all along been paying for services not rendered until they started defaulting en masse. Where on is getting the service there is certainly every reason to pay but look at the roads. Not street lighting, no water etc. Money is stolen and most of it goes to pay fat salaries of council employees who steal as shown in the case you are reporting on above. Whilst salaries take up 80% of Harare revenue collected the 20% left is also mauled by these very same overpaid employees. Tenders are inflated and briefcase companies are used to siphon the little that is left for service delivery and capital expenditure. Should we then pay so that we present opportunities for these crooks to steal? No only that must one pay for services not rendered? It is these councils that are advertising daily on TV that must pay back the money they have been receiving in the past for service not rendered. Magosvonge requires help.

  • vanhu

    Ndizvozvo chete here zvamuinazvo .Isu kuno kumining ndiwo mashandiro edu .Kana uine hama inokwanisa kutipa cynide let him form his company nhasi and by the end of the day tinenge tavekudya mari. Zvakatooma kuno.Hatikupi tender ye1,5 chete asi makutukutu .Kana usingadi zvekusupplier tinokuita consultant asi ugozotipawo kahalf kedu

  • Ras Matopos

    Anonyepa, chi company chake munhu uyu. He registered it in his in-laws’ names achifunga kuti angwara. This is so sick. But you will be surprised kuona achiibuda nyaya iyoyi.

  • ruru wemhiriino

    musarwadziwe aita twake ndihombarume kkk

  • Tsikamutanda

    The first thing to do in all this is to stop corruption completely. Corruption is very costly to rate payers because it then make people pay those premiums charged to please inlaws etc. As a starting point lets ask all councils to use civil service salary scales with immediate effect and significantly adjust all those charges ie rates, business licenses, parking fees etc previously arrived at after factoring those corrupt transactions intended to please inlaws then completely reverse all these obscene charges to zero and we start afresh. You can not honestly blame people for failing to pay rates that were obviously inflated to fund sexually influenced transactions.

  • Cummings

    Aidya nehama. Ndofunga ambhuya vairumbidza mukuwasha uyu zuva nezuva.