Mupfumira trial: Witness contradicts State

THE corruption trial of former Cabinet minister Prisca Mupfumira continued on Wednesday with a State witness differing with the prosecution’s case. 

Mupfumira is currently on trial in a matter she is jointly charged with Barnabas Matongera after they were accused of flouting tender processes by influencing Nssa to enter into a housing project deal without board approval. 

Mupfumira and Matongera are accused of prejudicing Nssa of US$6.5 million in the Muzenya-Gweru housing project. 

Allegations are that Mupfumira acted contrary to her duties by directing Nssa to engage in the housing project with a company called Drawcard Enterprises without following the tender process. 

Nssa head of property investments Kurauone Chihota, who is a key State witness, absolved Mupfumira of any wrongdoing.   

Asked by Mupfumira’s lawyer Admire Rubaya to explain how the then minister gave the instruction, Chihota said it came via third parties. 

Chihota said he was part of meetings in which instructions were given but there are no minutes to support the alleged claim that Mupfumira was the one directing Nssa to enter into the deal with Drawcard. 

He also said it was difficult for him to pin point if the meetings related to the Muzenya project as Nssa had several projects at the time. 

Chihota averred that an instruction came from the minister in July 2018 for the agreement between Nssa and Drawcard to be concluded within 48 hours. 

However, Mupfumira disputed this fact saying the agreement was only signed on August 3, 2017 which exonerates her from the 48-hour claim. 

In her defence, Mupfumira denied giving instructions to anyone or being responsible for Nssa affairs.  

“The first accused person (Mupfumira), in all fairness, was just a government minister and not an executive official at Nssa.  

“It was not in her province to obtain the alleged prerequisite board approval, neither was she charged with ensuring that the tender processes were slavishly adhered to for purposes of Nssa entering into the offtake agreement in question,” Rubaya argued. 

Mupfumira also denied being in charge of Nssa as that was the purview of the authority’s general manager Liza Chitiga – a fact which Chihota agreed on. 

“Accounting officer was…Chitiga who was the general manager. In black and white, according to the act, Nssa board was responsible for the running of Nssa,” Rubaya said. 

Meanwhile, during cross-examination by Matongera’s lawyer, Richard Masinire, Chihota conceded that it was improper to charge as the former Nssa director of contribution and collections as he was not the accounting officer. 

The matter will continue on November 9.