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.