A State witness in the corruption trial of former Cabinet minister Prisca Mupfumira yesterday nailed her by chronicling how she put officers under immense pressure to expedite the signing of a housing agreement at the centre of the case.
Former director of finance and administration in the Ministry of Public Service, Labour and Social Welfare, Mrs Memory Mukondomi, told the court that Mupfumira would call them to expedite the signing of the agreement between the National Social Security Authority (NSSA) and Drawcard Investments, a company that was to undertake the housing project in Gweru.
Mupfumira wanted the agreement to be completed within 48 hours, she said.
Mrs Mukondomi told the court that Mupfumira at one point, during a meeting, demanded to have the process speeded up so that the project would be launched on the same date with National Building Society (NBS).
“On June 19, 2017 we were called to attend a meeting where Mupfumira and some board members were in attendance,” she said.
“It was about investment in a housing project.
“Another meeting was held at Anesu Building where NSSA board members met, I included. At that meeting, there was now urgency coming from the Minister saying there was a need to complete the agreement.
“On July 27, I received an e-mail from (NSSA) board chairman Mr (Robin) Vela saying they could assist since there was a misunderstanding on the housing units to be constructed. In the e-mail, the chairman emphasised the need to expedite the whole process.”
Mrs Mukondomi told the court that Mupfumira was not supposed to be involved in the build-up to the agreement between NSSA and Drawcard Investments.
She said she was only supposed to get reports from committees responsible for project operations.
Under cross-examination by Mr Rubaya, Mrs Mukondomi admitted that there was no official communication in the form of letters or memos written to her by the ex-minister regarding the need to speed up the process.
She also admitted that there were no minutes to confirm that there were meetings held to discuss the need to speed up the process.
Mupfumira claimed Mrs Mukondomi was hired to assist and strengthen the State’s case against her thorough her testimony.
Another State witness, Mr Elliot Shadaya, from BDO Zimbabwe Chartered Accountants, dismissed Mupfumira’s assertion that he was not qualified to carry out an audit on the matter.
The audit carried out by Mr Shadaya on the deal led to the arrest of Mupfumira. Mr Shadaya said he was qualified to undertake audits on public institutions through the blessings of the Auditor-General.
He also told the court that there was an Act that empowered him to carry out forensic audits as he was a member of the Institute of Forensic Auditors Board.
Mupfumira is jointly charged with Barnabas Matongera for allegedly speeding up a project to build low income houses in Gweru through Drawcard Enterprises without seeking the approval of the NSSA board and without going to tender.
NSSA falls under the purview of the Labour Ministry, which Mupfumira once headed.
Regional magistrate Mr Ngoni Nduna presided over the issue, while the State was represented by Mr Whisper Mabhaudi and Mr Loveit Masuku.
Mupfumira spoke through her lawyer Mr Admire Rubaya.
The matter continues today with Mr Rubaya cross-examining Mrs Mukondomi.
Mupfumira faces seven counts of criminal abuse of office involving US$95 million amid reports that she had allegedly used some of the money to acquire properties in South Africa, Dubai and the United Kingdom, a charge she denies.