Mupfumira trial kicks off  

Blessing Masakadza
FORMER Public Service minister Priscah Mupfumira and the then permanent secretary in the ministry, Ngoni Masoka, have denied allegations of abusing their positions and prejudicing the ministry of over US$10 000 and corruptly accessing a US$90 000 loan.
The two are in court on allegations of abuse of duty as public officers and corruptly concealing the US$90 000 loan from the National Social Security Authority (Nssa), which was used to acquire a motor vehicle.
The duo also allegedly flew ministry officials  and relatives to Mupfumira’s  daughter’s wedding and paying for accommodation in South Africa, prejudicing the State of over US$10 000 and R113 000.
The trial opened yesterday before chief magistrate Munamato Mutevedzi after the dismissal of Mupfumira and Masoka’s application seeking to postpone the matter.
In her defence, Mupfumira, represented by Thembinkosi Magwaliba and Sylvester Hashiti, argued that all the transactions were above board and were known to the Office of the President and Cabinet and that the vehicle was not hers personally, but property of the State.
First to testify was deputy chief secretary to the Office of the President and Cabinet Martin Rushwaya who outlined the roles of a minister and a permanent secretary and the process of vehicle acquisition in ministries.
CMED managing director Davison Mhaka also testified and explained the process of vehicle acquisition for the government.
It is alleged that from March to July 2015, Mupfumira knowing she was not a procurement officer used her influence as a minister to verbally instruct Masoka to initiate procurement procedures of obtaining a loan from Nssa for the purchase of a ministerial vehicle knowing Nssa had no provisions to issue such loans.
Masoka is alleged to have written to Nssa requesting US$90 000 without Treasury approval and the funds were transferred to the ministry.
Mupfumira is alleged to have instructed Memory Mukondomi, a finance director in the ministry, to purchase a Toyota Landcruiser VX – L200 from Croco Motors as a ministerial vehicle, which is not part of her conditions of service. According to her conditions of service, she was entitled to a Mercedes Benz E300.
The vehicle was purchased at the instruction of Mupfumira and registered with CMED as a condition of service vehicle. The ministry, through Masoka, issued a duty-free certificate for the vehicle.
It is the State’s Case that they knew that the minister was entitled to a Mercedes and that in March 2015 she had been issued with a Range Rover as part of her conditions of service and that she was not entitled to the Toyota Landcruiser.
It is also further alleged that they did not reveal the US$90 000 loan transaction to their principal, the Office of President and Cabinet.
Mupfumira also stands accused of instructing the finance director to facilitate the payment of air tickets for her aides to attend her daughter’s wedding in South Africa. Masoka is accused of unlawfully approving the payment.
It is also alleged that they facilitated the payment of accommodation fees and transport, which prejudiced the ministry of US$10 215 and R113 539.
The matter was postponed to July 27 for trial continuation.

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