Munodawafa trial in false start

Fungai Lupande Court reporter
Harare magistrate Mr Hoseah Mujaya last Tuesday breathed fire after the State said it was not ready to proceed with the trial of the Secretary for Transport and Infrastructural Development Munesushe Munodawafa. Munodawafa (49) is accused of ordering Air Zimbabwe to pay Navistar Insurance Brokers $305 000 apparently without any reason. The prosecutor Mr Ephraim Zinyandu told the court that he wanted more time to prepare for the trial.

“We noted that the documentary evidence we intend to use is not certified,” said Mr Zinyandu. “This is a fraud case involving a number of exhibits, witnesses and documents and we need time to have interviews with witnesses to appreciate the case.”

Mr Mujaya was not amused and asked why the matter was remanded if the State was not ready. “The case is already in this court a month before it starts,” said Mr Mujaya. “This is an inconvenience to everyone. Had it not been that the defence agreed to have the matter postponed, I would have refused further remand.”

The trial was adjourned to April 4, and former Air Zimbabwe company secretary Grace Pfumbidzayi is among 22 witness who will testify.

Munodawafa, who is represented by Mr Jonathan Samukange, is facing two counts of criminal abuse of office. It is alleged that on November 3, 2009 an MA60 aircraft was involved in an accident at the Harare International Airport after wild pigs wandered across the runway.

The aircraft was a complete write-off and the airline was paid $6, 1 million by its London re-insurer, Chartis Insurance Company. On April 23, 2010 Chartis Insurance made a counter claim of the same amount against CAAZ for their negligence in failing to ensure that the runway was safe. The claim included $2,419,724 for loss of business by Airzim.

CAAZ, which is Government-owned, approached Munodawafa’s office for assistance and he in turn appointed Navistar Insurance Brokers to go to London and negotiate an out-of-court settlement without going to tender, it is alleged.

At the time of Navistar’s appointment, Munodawafa was fully aware that CAAZ’s insurance broker was Marsh Insurance Brokers. Upon the return of Navistar from London, Munodawafa wrote to the then Airzim Accounting Officer, Innocent Mavhunga, directing him to pay Navistar a “success fee” of $305 000.

It is alleged there was no logic for Munodawafa to appoint Navistar for the task when CAAZ’s broker was Marsh Insurance Brokers.

Further, the service rendered by Navistar was to be paid for by CAAZ and not Air Zimbabwe. Following the MA60 accident, Munodawafa on April 18, 2013 personally negotiated a lease of an Embraer plane from Solenta Aviation of South Africa through his friend Ben Dahwa.

Thereafter, he allegedly directed Mavhunga to rent the plane from Solenta Aviation without going to tender. Subsequently, the plane was leased for six months with a condition of paying an “irregular finder’s fee” of $10 200 to be paid to Dahwa every month.

A forensic audit report by BCA Forensic unearthed the alleged scam.

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