Former Information Technology minister Supa Mandiwanzira was acquitted on a charge of criminal abuse of office on Friday, more than two years after his arrest.
The Nyanga South MP had been charged with “unprocedurally seconding” his personal assistant Tawanda Chinembiri – a government employee at deputy director level – to the Postal and Telecommunications Regulatory Authority of Zimbabwe (POTRAZ) board without following due process.
Prosecutors had charged that Chinembiri was not an employee of the government, but Mandiwanzira’s team always contended that he was, and accused prosecutors of bringing him to court on a false premise.
Harare magistrate Esthere Chivasa acquitted Manziwanzira on Friday after prosecutors admitted their charge was incompetent.
Prosecutor George Manokore said he took over the case mid-flight and even as he realised that the charge needed amending, he never got round to doing so.
“Having taken over the matter from a different team, we went through the state papers as was directed by the court but we believe that we underestimated the issues which we were supposed to deal with before we prepared the charge sheet,” Makonore said.
“As the state, we have no problem with the accused person being removed from remand.”
Mandiwanzira was arrested in 2018 on two charges. He was acquitted by Justice Nicholas Mathonsi at the Harare High Court last year on a charge of criminal abuse of office over a NetOne audit contract awarded to Megawatt Energy (Private) Limited without going to tender.
Megawatt unearthed overpricing of equipment by bought by NetOne by US$100 million. At least US$30 million of that money was recovered, and Justice Mathonsi ruled that Mandiwanzira had saved NetOne money, and not prejudiced it.
Mandiwanzira’s lawyer Fungai Chimwamurombe said Mandiwanzira should never have been arrested.