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High Court judge acquits Minister Mangoma
Zimbabwe Lawyers for Human Rights (ZLHR)

June 28, 2011

High Court Judge Justice Chinembiri Bhunu on Tuesday 28 June 2011 acquitted Energy and Power Development Minister and Movement for Democratic Change (MDC) Deputy Treasurer Hon. Elton Mangoma who had been on trial for allegedly flouting tender procedures in the procurement of fuel.

Justice Bhunu discharged Hon. Mangoma at the close of the State case after the Minister's lawyers Beatrice Mtetwa and Selby Hwacha, who are members of Zimbabwe Lawyers for Human Rights applied for discharge at the close of the State case. The State had opposed the defence lawyers' application and had applied to put Hon. Mangoma to his defence.

In a ruling which was delivered in Court A at the High Court on Tuesday afternoon, Justice Bhunu ruled that Chris Mutangadura, the chief law officer in the Attorney General's Office failed at the close of the State case to establish a prima facie case against Hon. Mangoma.

Justice Bhunu said the State's own witnesses, including Justin Mupamhanga, the permanent secretary in the Ministry of Energy and Power Development had vindicated Hon. Mangoma and that the MDC Deputy Treasurer had acted in the interests of the country by sourcing fuel at a time when supplies had dried up.

Hon. Mangoma had been on trial since 28 March 2011 for allegedly contravening section 174 (1) (a) as read with Section 174 (2) of the Criminal Law (Codification and Reform) Act Chapter 9:23 or alternatively contravening Section 30 of the Procurement Act as read with Section 5 (4) (a) (iii) and Section 35 of the Procurement Regulations (statutory instrument 171 of 2002).

In his defence, the Energy and Power Development Minister said his arrest was a crude attempt to scuttle the criminal prosecution of senior executives at the State-run fuel procurement company, the National Oil Company of Zimbabwe (Noczim) which he had already initiated with the Attorney General's Office. Hon. Mangoma said his arrest and detention was meant to afford the perpetrators of fraud at Noczim "free reign to destroy the available evidence".

Hon. Mangoma's woes are not yet over as he will stand trial on 18 July 2011 for allegedly contravening Section 174 (1) (a) as read with Section 174 (2) of the Criminal Law Codification and Reform) Act Chapter 9:23.

The State alleges that Hon. Mangoma unlawfully and intentionally abused his public office for the purpose of showing disfavor to some local and South African companies, which had participated in a tender process for the supply and delivery of prepayment revenue management system meters and associated equipment.

Prosecutors allege that he unlawfully and intentionally abused his public office for the purpose of showing disfavor to some local and South African companies, which had participated in a tender for the supply and delivery of prepayment revenue management system meters and associated equipment.

The State alleges that the Energy and Power Development Minister unlawfully instructed ZESA Holdings board chairperson Dr Noah Madziva, former ZESA chief executive officer, Benjamin Rafemoyo and the State Procurement Board to stop processing the tender for the supply of prepaid electricity meters after adjudication thereby effectively cancelling a tender awaiting announcement of the winner.

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