Tendai Rupapa Senior Court Reporter
ZIMBABWE Broadcasting Corporation chief executive Patrick Mavhura and acting head of finance and administration Benania Shumba, who were facing charges of contravening the Procurement Act and corruptly using a false document to misrepresent facts, were yesterday cleared of any wrongdoing by a Harare magistrate. Mavhura (38) and Shumba (48) were accused of buying vehicles from Croco Motors without following due process.
The two yesterday appeared before Mr Noel Mupeiwa who acquitted them. Through their lawyer Mr Brighton Musadza of Musadza and Associates, the duo successfully made an application for discharge at the close of the State case. In his ruling, Mr Mupeiwa said ZBC was not a procuring entity in terms of the law. He acknowledged that in the face of the evidence given by the chairperson of the board, among other evidence, it was difficult to find fault in the conduct of the pair. The court also found out that in respect of the charge relating to perceived use of false documents, no proof had been proffered by the State to suggest that it was the accused persons who handed the documents to Croco Motors.
“It was the evidence of the State witnesses that the purchase orders had been handed over to Croco Motors by officials from CMED. If the board had been appraised and advised by the accused persons of all the developments, then there was no basis for charging the pair in their personal capacities,” he said. Sometime in February this year, Mavhura and Shumba, who were facing criminal abuse of office charges after they allegedly unprocedurally acquired 35 vehicles from Croco Motors, successfully applied for exception to the charge. In their application for exception, the pair submitted that the charge did not disclose the offence.
“The offence applied to a special species of individuals known as public officers of which the accused do not qualify to be called public officers. This means that they cannot be answerable to a charge that does not exist or do not apply to them.” Mr Elijah Makomo concluded then that Mavhura and Shumba were not public officers before quashing their charge. On the recent charges, Mavhura and Shumba, in their application for discharge, submitted that the charge did not disclose the offence since they were not bound by the provisions of the Act. They also said that even if it was found that ZBC was a procuring entity, there was still nothing wrong in their conduct since they complied with all the provisions of the said Act.
On the issue of the forged documents, Mr Musadza argued that they were properly signed by all who attended the meeting, therefore, there would not be any speculations that the minutes were doctored by his clients. It was the State’s case that on November 3, 2015, Mavhura wrote a letter to Permanent Secretary of the Ministry of Information, Media and Broadcasting Services requesting authority to buy 45 vehicles from Croco Motors. He attached a proforma invoice from Croco specifying the vehicles to be purchased. The invoice included 20 Toyota Hilux single cabs valued at US$641 000, 10 Toyota coaster (30-seater) valued at US$879 000 and 15 Nissan Datsun Go vehicles valued at US$199 500. Overall, the vehicles were quoted at US$1 719 900.