Senior Court Reporter
The warrant of arrest for former Cabinet Minister Prisca Mupfumira was cancelled yesterday when she attended court and explained she did not deliberately abscond, but was being guided by the date spelt out in the Practice Direction 4 issued by Chief Justice Luke Malaba during the lockdown period.
Mupfumira, who was being represented by lawyer Mr Admire Rubaya, was then remanded out of custody to May 5 by Harare senior regional magistrate Mr Trainos Utahwashe after he cancelled her warrant.
She is jointly charged with Barnabas Matongera, who was National Social Security Authority (NSSA) ex-director contribution and collections officer. His warrant of arrest was also cancelled.
Mupfumira and Matongera were set to stand trial on allegations of paying US$3,5 million to a local land developing company towards the construction of low-housing units in Gweru without the NSSA board’s approval and following due tender processes.
The money was allegedly paid to Drawcard Enterprises out of the US$6,5 million that NSSA had committed towards construction of 1 000 low-cost houses in Gweru city.
It is the State’s case that in 2017, Mupfumira, being Minister of Public Service, Labour and Social Welfare, mooted the idea of having a flagship project in Gweru where 1 000 low-cost houses were to be built as quickly as possible.
In pursuance of her plan, Mupfumira then allegedly summoned NSSA chief property investment officer Mr Kurauone Chihota and influenced him to sign the Gweru off-take project for 200 stands with Metbank.
The State said the decision was made knowing NSSA had no land in Gweru and that there was no board approval, and that tender procedures had not been followed.
Because of Mupfumira’s actions, Draw card Private Limited, which is into land development, and also happens to be Metbank’s client, was awarded the contract to construct the houses.
Drawcard Enterprises, according to the State, had no land in Gweru city council area despite having been awarded the contract to develop the 200 housing units but did have land nearby in Vungu Rural District Council.
Matongera, who was the then acting NSSA general manager and accounting officer signed the housing off-take for Muzenya Gweru housing project on August 3, 2017.
He was said to be fully aware that there was no board resolution on the matter.
Drawcard Enterprises is said to have entered into an agreement with NSSA for development of residential stands in Vungu without the city council boundary being moved to incorporate the land.
As a result of Mupfumira and Matongera’s actions, NSSA committed to pay US$6,5 million and $3,5 million had already been paid towards the deal, according to the State.
Meanwhile, Harare City Council officials, Edgar Dzehonye, Tineyi Kurewa, Wellington Tauya and Samantha Museera, who are facing allegations of illegally parcelling residential stands in Harare were also issued with warrants of arrest after they failed to appear in court yesterday.