Harare regional magistrate Elijah Makomo has rapped former Mines ministry permanent secretary Francis Gudyanga as he acquitted two Minerals Marketing Corporation of Zimbabwe (MMCZ) executives who were facing fraud charges.
Hannan Tongai Chitate and Richard Chingodza were facing accusations that they had fraudulently awarded themselves allowances and loans worth $625 226, 88 from the organisation.
In their defence the two had said that the allegations were out of malice by Gudyanga who wanted to get them out of the way in order to cover his back.
In passing judgment Makomo said MMCZ and Gudyanga failed to bring in an audit to verify facts before bringing the accused to court.
The two senior managers were never given an opportunity to explain themselves before arrests were made.
He said that Chitate and Chingodza’s case was not even supposed to have been brought before the court warning that the courts should not be used as audit offices.
“It turned out that the court was somehow turned into an audit firm where the accused had been brought to explain their payments. The function of the court is not to preside over an audit of some sort which happened herein but to hear evidence showing that the payments received by an accused was not proper for reason so and so,” Makomo said in his ruling.
As part of its findings the court said that Gudyanga had selectively brought cases against the accused leaving out other employees who received similar backpays and allowances.
Chitate and Chigodza had said that it was Gudyanga who was in fact pilfering MMCZ resources. The magistrate noted that during trial Gudyanga had refused to disclose some payments made to some shadowy characters.
“Given an opportunity to explain himself in a closed court where no other adverse ears were listening to his explanations, the Professor still insisted that he could not tell the court what the purpose of those payments and who exactly was paid those monies,” Makomo said.
This, Makomo explained, meant that the court “must decide on the side of the accused persons because the Professor was not forthcoming with the payments he had made”.
The magistrate upheld the accused’s defence that Gudyanga had maliciously pursued a case against them to cover up on his acts of bad governance and criminal abuse of office.
“There are several such issues that indict the complainant (Gudyanga) on bad governance and even some bordering on criminal abuse of that office by himself.
“As a result of this, it is the view of the court that the evidence before this court does not sustain proof beyond reasonable doubt in this case, the accused will therefore be entitled to their acquittal on both the main and the alternative charges,” Makomo said.
The two were represented by Admire Rubaya. Chigodza was employed by MMCZ as deputy general manager while Chitate was the finance manager.
Allegations against Chingodza and Chitate are that they had failed to follow the reporting structure at MMCZ, which required them to run transactions through Gudyanga, who was the Corporation’s board chair but the court ruled that all monies paid were properly paid and in accordance with their employment contracts.