Deputy chief secretary in the President’s Office Ray Ndlukula let the cat out of the bag on Thursday after he openly told a court that they illegally granted a lucrative contract to the wife of Vice President Constantino Chiwenga.
It emerged in court during cross-examination that Marry Chiwenga, wife of former Zimbabwe Defence Forces commander, Constantino, was irregularly awarded a contract to provide travel arrangements for the Office of the President and Cabinet without going to tender.
Marry’s company, it also emerged, did not provide its registration certificate with the State Procurement Board (SPB), Certificate of Incorporation, tax clearance certificate from the Zimbabwe Revenue Authority or CR14 form. Nonetheless, it was awarded the contract and then asked to provide its registration with SPB and other essential documents at a later date.
This was laid bare as Ndlukula was being cross-examined by Alec Muchadehama during his testimony against former Energy minister Samuel Undenge.
The ex-Energy and Power Development minister is facing criminal abuse of office charges which allegedly prejudiced the State of $12 650.
He was represented by Muchadehama and Dumisani Mthombeni when he appeared before Harare regional magistrate Hosea Mujaya for continuation of his trial.
“…Ndlukula you were recently in the media as having awarded a contract to Marry Chiwenga to provide travel services without going to tender,” Muchadehama questioned.
“mmmm what I can say is that, that very company has been providing travel service to the Office of the President and Cabinet since 2016.
“And your worship, with regard to the Office of the President and Cabinet, there are certain considerations that we have to take into light especially in regards to travel of our principals. We don’t just willy-nilly advertise certain tenders which we feel might have an effect on the security of our principals, hence that was done.
“I can confirm that I awarded her the tender having solicited for support and the condonation from the procurement regulatory authority of Zimbabwe. I (admit we) did not go for tender.”
Muchedahama, however, questioned the sincerity of the OPC in upholding corporate governance.
“When you gave her (Marry) company the job, she had just given you a profile, no CR14, no tax clearance, nothing, you didn’t even know what the company was (about),” Muchadehama exclaimed, to which Ndlukula replied: “I don’t think that is correct, it was a travel agency and we wanted them to provide a service.”
Jaws were to later drop as Ndlukula was made to read a letter he signed awarding the contract to Chiwenga without any requisite documents.
In the letter, Ndlukula only asked for the requisite documents to be provided at a later date, as if to give the company a chance to put its house in order.
Meanwhile, Ndlukula who testified against Undenge, said the former minister breached set procedures and authorised a contract that prejudiced the State of $12 650.
However, during cross examination by Mthombeni, Ndlukula said Undenge could not have authorised the payment because it was not his duty to do so but that of Zimbabwe Power Company (ZPC)’s chief executive officer who doubled up as Zesa Holdings’ subsidiary’s chief accounting officer
Ndlukula also admitted that the letter signed by Undenge did not instruct ZPC to pay Fruitful Communications any money.
The State is alleging that on January 14, 2016, Undenge gave a directive to ZPC to engage Fruitful Communications run by television personality Oscar Pambuka and politician, Psychology Maziwisa, without going to tender.
“I put it to you that you are a political appointee and came here to paint the accused person in bad light to impress your authorities and anyone else behind his arrest,” Mthombeni said.
“You are equally aware that the permanent secretary, group chief executive officer and ZPC chairperson were involved in this procedure at some point but never raised any objections at the material time.
“My client was simply made to append a signature to a letter that came from then vice president Emmerson Mnangagwa which was used by Maziwisa and Pambuka to attain the said tender.”
According to the State, Maziwisa and Pambuka are director and media executive, respectively, at Fruitful Communications.
Sometime in January 2016, Maziwisa and Pambuka brought a letter to ZPC from former Energy minister Undenge directing the company to work with Fruitful Communications at intervals of six months per engagement.
During that month, Maziwisa and Pambuka entered into a verbal agreement with ZPC which was represented by Noah Gwariro, the company’s managing director, and Fadzai Chisveto, its public relations executive, to do publicity work.
The court heard that on February 12, 2016, Fruitful Communications hosted a ZimAsset conference at Miekles Hotel where Undenge was the guest of honour and the event was covered by the national broadcaster.
It was further alleged that on March 8, Maziwisa and Pambuka, intending to defraud ZPC, presented to Chisveto an invoice claiming they had hosted various programmes on ZBC, National FM and Power FM.
Maziwisa and Pambuka claimed that Fruitful Communications had caused the programmes to be aired on radio and television and claimed $12 650.
The duo was paid $12 650 and prejudiced ZPC the full amount, and nothing was recovered.