Tendai Rupapa Senior Reporter
Former Deputy Chief Secretary in the Office of the President and Cabinet, Dr Ray Ndhlukula, yesterday blasted former principal director of State Residences, Douglas Tapfuma, for allegedly abusing his office.
He said the position held by Tapfuma, called for high professional deportment, integrity and honesty in discharging duties.
Dr Ndhlukula, who was the accounting officer then, told the court that Tapfuma misrepresented to him when he applied for duty-free certificates on the pretext the vehicles were for Government use when they were for his personal use.
Tapfuma is facing criminal abuse of duty charges and Dr Ndhlukula was testifying against him before regional magistrate Mrs Estere Chivasa.
He allegedly evaded car import duty for his personal cars after buying them using the State Residences Department’s name.
In his testimony led prosecutor Mr Clemence Chimbare, Dr Ndhlukula dismissed Tapfuma’s claims that his hands were clean.
Through his lawyer Mr Brighton Pabwe, Tapfuma said: “He followed the department’s policy . . . He found this policy in place when he joined the department.
“He will further state that the department used this policy in clearing the other vehicles, some of which are not even owned by the President’s Department or the Government.”
In response to the claims, Dr Ndhlukula said Tapfuma was not telling the truth, adding there was no such policy.
“Surely if that policy was there, I would have taken advantage of it too for my own benefit. For the several years I worked in that department, I never used that facility because it’s non-existent,” he said.
“Procedurally, personal vehicles allocated to certain individuals for business use are procured through CMED and remains their property until they are ready for disposal. Duty-free certificates are only issued for motor vehicles and goods meant for public use.”
The prosecutor produced copies of duty- free certificates acquired by Tapfuma for a Honda Fit, Toyota Altezza and Nissan Tiida, which were approved by Dr Ndhlukula and asked him to explain why he signed them.
Dr Ndhlukula said when he received the requests from Tapfuma, he exercised caution when he signed for the certificates as he believed Tapfuma was honest.
“The position of a principal director is a very senior position. It is an office you expect officers to act with integrity and high professional deportment in carrying out their duties.
“That expectation is even more for the principal director at State Residences because that officer works directly with the President,” he said.
“I signed for the certificates because I did not look at Tapfuma as an individual, but his office. Also, before these certificates are signed, there would be supporting documents, for example, where the vehicles would be taken to and in this case, Tapfuma provided the State House’s address as the place where the vehicles were being taken to.
“I was then made to believe all was in order. If I had known they were for his personal use, I would have dismissed the request.”
During cross-examination, Tapfuma’s lawyer maintained that his client had no case to answer adding that if ever he committed an offence as alleged by the State, then Dr Ndhlukula should be answerable to the offence too.
“No misrepresentation was made to you when you signed the certificates, you knew who the importer was and cognisance of this policy in place, you went on to sign. If you were not aware, you would not have signed. Otherwise you would be sitting in the dock also as an accomplice,” he said.