Daniel Nemukuyu Senior Court Reporter
THE National Prosecuting Authority (NPA)’s bid to revive corruption charges against five Zimbabwe National Roads Administration (Zinara) bosses yesterday hit a snag after the Supreme Court threw out the State’s appeal against their acquittal.
Messrs Precious Murove (director administration and human resources), Simon Taranhike (finance director), Shadreck Matengabadza (finance manager), Stephen Matute (accountant) and Givemore Tendai Kufa (regional engineer) were last year cleared of criminal abuse of office. They were accused of fraudulently engaging third party companies to source foreign currency on the informal market on behalf of Zinara.
The prosecution sought leave to appeal the decision at the Supreme Court, but Justice Mary Anne Gowora yesterday struck the application off the roll.
The prosecution accused the executives of transferring $2 940 558 into the bank accounts of Access Finance (Private) Limited, Grayriver (Private) Limited and Caudless Trading without authorisation from the Zinara board of directors.
High Court judge Justice Amy Tsanga on April 24 this year cleared the five of any wrongdoing.
“All five accused persons are found not guilty of abuse of public office in terms of Section 174 of the Criminal Code and are acquitted,” ruled Justice Tsanga then.
The court found that the five’s actions had the blessings of their bosses.
The boss, Ms Nancy Masiiwa, was blasted for lying to the court that she was not aware of the transactions.
“We are in no doubt that they acted with the full knowledge of their CEO, Mrs Nancy Masiiwa, whose responsibility it was to bring the issue to the full board,” said Justice Tsanga.
“We were satisfied that the finance director did report to the CEO both in her capacity as CEO of Zinara and her concomitant position in Ifralink about the payments that were made which she knew about.
“It was a simple lie that she was not aware of what was happening.”
Justice Tsanga said it was unfair for the State to prosecute the juniors when the superiors were aware of the transactions.
“There is no basis upon which the accused persons should be held to be the ones responsible when what they did was with the full blessings of their ultimate superior under the circumstances where they were acting in good faith.
“Targeting juniors as scapegoats in an alleged fight against corruption lends itself to selective justice and cannot be countenanced.”
The court heard that sometime in 2011, Zinara was granted a loan of $206 million by the Development Bank of Southern Africa (DBSA) for the construction and rehabilitation of the 823km-long Plumtree-Mutare Highway.
NMB Bank was nominated by DBSA to facilitate the loan repayment on a quarterly basis and all revenue in hard currency collected from Zinara’s operations was given to NMB Bank, which would remit it to DBSA.
In May last year, Matute, Kufa, Murove, Taranhike and Matengabadza allegedly sourced foreign currency from the parallel market through Access Finance (Pvt) Ltd and Grayriver (Pvt) Ltd directors, after paying them a total of $2,94 million stating that the payment was a reimbursement to DBSA on behalf of Zinara’s part payment of its loan obligation with DBSA.