Ex-Zesa executives trial opens

THE trial of former Zesa Holdings(Zesa) top executives Joshua Chifamba, Saidi Sangula and Garikayi Churu, who are facing criminal abuse of office charges, opened yesterday with the trio distancing themselves from the offence. 

Chifamba (group chief executive), Sangula (group company secretary) and Churu (legal officer) are accused of engaging a law firm Chihambakwe, Mutizwa and Partners Legal Firm to carry out debt collection services for the Zimbabwe Electricity Transmission and Distribution Company (ZETDC) without board resolution and the firm benefiting over US$3 million. 

Prosecutors allege that at the end of December 2015, the three acting in connivance engaged the law firm in December 2015 and it commenced the debt collection services the following January. 

Claims are that when the law firm started collecting debts for ZETDC they had no valid contract. 

Allegations are that in a bid to cover up the offence, Chifamba, Churu and Sangula connived to regularise and sanitise the engagement of the law firm for debt collection services by having them sign a contract on June 3, 2016. 

Prosecutors allege that the trio showed favour to the law firm as there was no board resolution to authorise the awarding of the contract. 

It is alleged that the law firm went on to receive a total of US$3 098 248 as debt collection commission from January 2016 to December 2019. 

The State alleges that the trio acted contrary to their duties as public officers by awarding the contract without board resolution. 

However, Chifamba, Sangula and Churu are arguing that they are not public officers. 

Zesa group financial controller Eliab Chikwenhere testified that Churu signed the agreement with the firm with the authority of Chifamba and Sangula, who were his superiors. 

Chikwenhere was, however, at pains to explain the connivance when he was put under cross examination by the trio’s lawyers Admire Rubaya and Sylvester Hashiti. 

He was asked why he did not object to the engagement of the firm as Zesa’s group finance controller when he was in the meeting that sealed the deal. 

It was also put to him how as the group financial controller he failed to raise a red flag when money was being paid to the law firm.