Zimbabwe Broadcasting Corporation (ZBC) acting chief executive officer, Patrick Mavhura and another top executive have been arrested on charges of criminal abuse of office after they were allegedly involved in a car-buying scam for the struggling broadcaster
Mavhura (38) together with acting head of finance and administration, Benania Shumba (48) yesterday appeared at the Harare Magistrates Court where they were charged for buying different vehicles from the 35 they had been authorised to purchase by Cabinet.
The two, who were arrested on Thursday, were not asked to plead when they appeared before Harare magistrate Vongai Muchuchuti and were released on $1 000 bail each.
Through their lawyer, Oliver Mushuma, they were also ordered to surrender their travel documents, reside at their given addresses, not to interfere with witnesses, report every Friday at their nearest police stations and ordered not to visit ZBC premises.
According to court papers, on November 3 last year Mavhura wrote a letter to the permanent secretary in the Ministry of Information, George Charamba requesting authority to buy 45 vehicles, indicating he had consulted CMED officials who referred him to Croco Motors.
He attached to his letter a pro-forma invoice dated December 2 2015 from Croco Motors, specifying the vehicles to be bought and their value.
However, on November 25 last year, the two ZBC bosses allegedly held an informal meeting with CMED officials and were given specifications and requirements, which included seeking a Cabinet authority.
It is alleged, CMED also indicated to the two that it would require a 2,5% of the total value as commission in the event that ZBC intended to ride on the CMED running tender.
Charamba then wrote a letter to Transport ministry permanent secretary Munesu Munodawafa seeking authority on behalf of ZBC to allow for the direct purchase of the vehicles.
The letter specified that ZBC had already secured quotations of vehicles from Croco Motors with a cumulative value of $1 719 900.
“On the 19th day of January 2016, the accused persons convened and led a meeting with Croco Motors where they decided and agreed to procure a completely different set of motor vehicles from those they were pursuing on the Cabinet authority, with completely different values and without any involvement of CMED,” reads part of the State papers.
The State alleges on February 5 this year, the two received Cabinet authority which specified that they were supposed to buy 45 vehicles as outlined in their application.
But on the same day, the duo allegedly originated an RTGS transfer of $649 000 to Croco Motors against a procurement arrangement with a barter deal of 75% payment and 25% retention being broadcasting/advertising airtime to be enjoyed by Croco Motors on ZBC.
“There was no contract or any agreement document on the implementation of the said barter deal. The accused persons placed a verbal order of the said motor vehicles despite the fact that their procurement and purchasing office had a serialised order book which was in use,” the State said.
“The accused persons attempted to sanitise the placement of an order in retrospect but hit a brick-wall after realising the dates in the serialised order book were far much advanced than they had anticipated.”
On May 18 this year, Mavhura and Shumba allegedly facilitated and authorised the payment of $20 000 to CMED as part payment of the $49 030 which was 2,5% commission charged by CMED for procuring the vehicles.
“This was despite the fact that CMED had not provided the procurement services of which the two parties had agreed since they had been by-passed when the accused persons purchased the said vehicles [from Croco Motors],” the State alleged.
The matter was picked up by the Zimbabwe Anti-Corruption Commission, leading to the pair’s arrest.
Sebastian Mutizirwa appeared for the State.