Civil Aviation Authority of Zimbabwe (CAAZ) chief executive Mr David Chawota yesterday appeared in court on fresh charges of criminal abuse of office after he allegedly awarded a tender amounting to 27 900 000 euros to a Spanish company for the procurement of the country’s airspace management systems.
This was despite the fact that the Supreme Court had nullified a previous award to the same company.
Prosecutor Mr Zivanai Macharaga opposed bail.
The court heard from State witness Superintendent Lawrence Mashawi that Chawota was was abusing his bail conditions in a different matter.
It was alleged he was interfering with witnesses and police were finding it difficult to get information from CAAZ as management was scared of him.
“He once caused the dismissal of some senior employees in 2016 after they disclosed information to police officers who had picked him up,” said Supt Mashawi.
He alleged that Chawota forced employees to sign short-term contracts so that he could control them.
“Two weeks ago we discovered that Chawota had called individual executives in his office and ordered them not to release any information or documents and that he threatened that failure to do that will result in them suffering the consequences,” said Supt Mashawi.
He said the amount involved and the strength of the State’s case might induce Chawota to flee.
Harare magistrate Mrs Rumbidzai Mugwagwa deferred the matter to today for bail ruling.
It is alleged that sometime in May 2013, Chawota initiated a tender process for the air traffic control system.
The tenders were for the supply, delivery and installation of air traffic control, Radar Surveillance System; supply, delivery and installation of navigation aid system; supply and delivery of air traffic control communications systems and the supply and delivery of air traffic control training simulator.
One of the bidders the Radar Surveillance Systems, SELEX Es, challenged the award to Indra Sustemas resulting in its cancellation by the Supreme Court in January 2016.
Chawota allegedly requested the direct appointment of Indra Sistemas of Spain to implement the country’s airspace management systems .
The court heard that on July 27, 2016 Chawota implored the CAAZ board to engage Indra Sistemas which had failed to meet minimum mandatory requirements in the previous bid.
In compliance with the Supreme Court ruling for a fresh tender, the board resolved that a thorough and diligent technical search for companies that develop the systems be conducted and a tender be urgently floated.
It is alleged Chawota secretly engaged Indra.