The Magistrate court today acquitted former ICT Postal and Courier Services Minister of the criminal charges laid against him as state led by prosecutor George Manokore admitted that they could not press charges against him.
For the past 2years, Mandiwanzira was facing charges of criminal abuse of office for allegedly appointing Tawanda Chinembiri onto the board of the Postal Telecommunications Regulatory Authority board when “he was not an employee of government”.
The state however, provided a contract that confirmed Chinembiri as an employee of government hence effectively killing their case.
The records confirming Chinembiri was employed by the Public Service Commission were produced following an application for further particulars.
The court then ruled that Mandiwanzira must be set free and be removed from further remands, out of custody.
“Having taken over the matter from a different team we went through the state papers as was directed by the court but your Worship we believe that we underestimated the issues which we were supposed to deal with before we prepared the charge sheet and having seen some issues that we need to attend to we then resorted Your Worship, as an office to have adequate time [to] apply our minds and see the way forward on the matter,” Manokore said.
“As the state your Worship we have no problem with the accused person being removed from remand.”
He added: “We had promised that we would come up with amended charges as was directed by the court. We had made an undertaking. Your worship, we promised that we will amend the charges as directed by the court. We had actually made an undertaking to the defense that we will amend the charges seven days before this day, today , and we were put on notice that if we fail to adhere to the direction of the court the court will remove the accused person from remand as indications are that the matter has taken long before commencing.”
In the first charge, Mandiwanzira was accused of illegally engaging Megawatt Energy to investigate corruption at NetOne without going to tender.
NetOne was then asked to pay $4 million for the services offered by Megawatt, hence the argument arose.
US$30 million is said to have been saved by Megawatt Energy on overpricing of equipment.
High Court Judge, Justice Nicholas Manthonsi last year struck him off the first count.
Representing Mandiwanzira, Harare senior lawyer Fungai Chimwamurombe of Chimwamurombe Legal Practice had argued in court prior to today, that Mandiwanzira had been brought to court on a false premise that he appointed someone who was not an employee of government. He said the State, by providing contrary evidence, proved that they had no case against Mandiwanzira and a decision by the court to ask the State to amend the charge was a miscarriage of justice.
“You cannot amend a nullity and you can’t put something on nothing” he had argued in court.