Court grants bail to Zimbabwe ex-telecoms minister after corruption charges

08 November 2018 | Alan Burkitt-Gray

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Zimbabwe’s former telecoms minister Supa Mandiwanzira has been bailed to appear in court at the end of the month after facing two charges related to his time as a minister.

Mandiwanzira, who was minister of information and communication technology when Robert Mugabe was president of Zimbabwe, has been granted $2,000 bail and has had to surrender his passport and the title deeds of his house. He has to report twice a week to the police.

His lawyers issued a statement denying the allegations. They said that he had presented himself to the police at their request and that the police interviewed him in connection with allegations of abuse of office on two issues.

The lawyers said the two charges were that he allegedly engaged a company called Megawatt to do consultancy work for state-owned telecoms operator NetOne without going to tender; and that he allegedly appointed his personal assistant to the board of Zimbabwe’s telecoms regulator, Potraz, without following the proper procedure.

Mandiwanzira denied the allegations, said the lawyers, and “advised the police that Megawatt offered consultancy services at no cost to the government”. They added: “That consultancy led to the recovery of tens of million dollars for NetOne. He explained that no corporate governance principles or any [government] circular were violated in the appointment of the PA as a Potraz board member.”

Mandiwanzira spent a night in a police station before being bailed to appear on 30 November. The allegations say that Mandiwanzira had an interest in Megawatt and directed NetOne to pay $4 million for the service and $1 million for consultancy.

According to reports from Zimbabwe, witnesses at a potential trial will include Potraz chairman Ozias Bvute, information and communications technology ministry permanent secretary Samuel Kundishora, former NetOne board chairman Alex Marufu, NetOne chief commercial officer Brian Mutandirio and former NetOne CEO Reward Kangai.

Mandiwanzira has been told not to interfere with those individuals.

Kangai wrote a report 11 months ago to Zimbabwe’s new president, Emmerson Mnangagwa, alleging that Mandiwanzira had “captured” NetOne and Potraz. Mandiwanzira denies the charges and has not yet been asked to plead.