HARARE – Zimbabwe Power Company (ZPC) managing director Noah Gwariro yesterday testified that former Energy minister Samuel Undenge was responsible for authorising a public relations contract that prejudiced the power utility of $12 000.
Undenge is answering to criminal abuse of office charges before Harare regional magistrate Hosea Mujaya.
The charges relate to a contract that was awarded to Psychology Maziwisa and Oscar Pambuka’s company, Fruitful Communications, for publicity work quoted at $12 650 in January 2016. The two never fulfilled the obligation, the State alleges.
Maziwisa and Pambuka are facing fraud charges in a separate court.
According to Gwariro, the minister could direct specific engagements between ZPC and other companies without going to tender which he said was the case with Fruitful Communications.
“I remember Maziwisa and Pambuka came to me with a letter from Undenge which was directing us to engage their services. I copied the public relations executive Fadzai Chisveto and group chief executive officer to be aware,” Gwariro said.
“My response was to assign Chisveto to find out from ministry how it was supposed to be handled before implementing. Fruitful Communications was then engaged and basically submitted an invoice for programmes that had been aired on various radios of $12 650.
“They later returned with another invoice demanding $36 000 which raised suspicion and prompted an enquiry. That money was never paid.”
Undenge’s lawyer Alec Muchadehama claimed Gwariro’s evidence was tainted because he wanted to cover his back since he is also under investigation over the matter.
“Is it not true that you are actually being investigated by Zimbabwe Anti-Corruption Commission for corruptly awarding the same tender and that you are actually a suspect in the matter of Maziwisa and Pambuka?” Muchadehama asked.
“The then vice president Emmerson Mnangagwa had a hand in this but you say there was no mention of him by Maziwisa and Pambuka when they sought the contract?”
According to the State, sometime in January 2016, Maziwisa and Pambuka brought a letter to ZPC from Undenge directing the company to work with Fruitful Communications at intervals of six months per engagement.
During that month, Maziwisa and Pambuka entered a verbal agreement with ZPC which was represented by Gwariro and Chisveto to do publicity work.
It was further alleged that on March 8 Maziwisa and Pambuka, intending to defraud ZPC, presented to Chisveto an invoice claiming they had hosted various programmes on Zimbabwe Broadcasting Corporation, National FM and Power FM.