CHIEF Magistrate Mishrod Guvamombe was arrested yesterday on alleged criminal abuse of office after he offered work-related attachment to former Cabinet ministers Saviour Kasukuwere and Supa Mandiwandira at the Harare magistrates’ court where they are appearing for alleged corruption.
He spent the night at Rhodesville Police Station pending his appearance in court today.
Kasukuwere and Mandiwanzira are law students at the University of Zimbabwe, but have pending criminal charges before the same court, raising fears that their daily presence at the court’s registry department could jeopardise their trial.
Police spokesperson Commissioner Charity Charamba confirmed that the allegations against Guvamombe stemmed from the decision to offer work-related attachment to Kasukuwere and Mandiwanzira at the Harare magistrates court.
“I can confirm that the accused person, Mishrod Guvamombe, was picked up today by the police on allegations of criminal abuse of office,” she said.
“The charges arose from the decision to offer work-related attachment to two former Cabinet ministers – Saviour Kasukuwere and Supa Mandiwanzira – at the Harare magistrates court while the two have pending criminal charges before the same court. He is scheduled to appear in court tomorrow (today).”
Guvamombe was yesterday suspended from work for three months pending an investigation into the alleged misconduct.
His decision was said to have put the name of the Judicial Service Commission (JSC) and the magistracy into disrepute.
Guvamombe, who will be receiving half of his salary during his suspension, is not allowed to visit his workplace during the three months which end on April 11.
JSC Acting Secretary Mr Walter Chikwana confirmed the suspension. “Yes, that is the position, he has been suspended,” he said.
Allegations against Mr Guvamombe arose on December 4 last year when he placed the two politicians on attachment at Harare magistrates court.
The attachment period, according to the offer, stretched from December 17, 2018 to February 15, 2019.
Guvamombe, the JSC alleged, was aware that the two were facing criminal charges at the same court.
He was the one who presided over Mandiwanzira’s case of criminal abuse of office, according to the JSC.
To that end, the JSC resolved to suspend him to pave way for investigations into the matter.
Mandiwanzira, who is Nyanga South National Assembly Member and former Minister of Information Communication Technology and Cyber Security, is facing criminal abuse of office charges at the Harare magistrates court.
On his initial appearance, Mandiwanzira was granted $2 000 bail by Guvamombe, who ordered him to provide surety in the form of title deeds to the tune of $100 000, among other bail conditions.
Mandiwanzira is facing two counts of criminal abuse of office as a public officer during his tenure as a Cabinet minister.
He allegedly engaged the services of a South African company called Megawatt Private Limited at NetOne without going to tender.
Megawatt was hired to review prices charged by a Chinese firm, Huawei Technologies, for the supply of network expansion and modernisation equipment to NetOne.
Of the fees charged, Megawatt successfully negotiated for a reduction of $30 million.
After the negotiations, Mandiwanzira instructed then NetOne chief executive officer Mr Reward Kangai and some board members to pay Megawatt $4 million.
According to the State, $1 million was for consultancy, while $3 million was termed “success fee”.
NetOne declined to pay Megawatt, arguing that tender procedures had not been followed. It argued that legally, it had no valid contract with Megawatt.
Investigations established that Mandiwanzira was a director in a company called Blue Nightingale which had shares in Megawatt.
Mandiwanzira is also being accused of irregularly appointing his personal assistant to be a board member for NetOne.
Kasukuwere is facing four counts of criminal abuse of office emanating from the time he was Minister for Youth Development, Indigenisation and Empowerment, as well as Local Government, Public Works and National Housing.