Former Cabinet minister Prisca Mupfumira and ex-Ministry of Public Service permanent secretary Ngoni Masoka yesterday denied the criminal charges they are facing when they appeared at the Harare Magistrates’ Court.
Mupfumira and Masoka are being charged with two counts of criminal abuse of office and another count of concealing a transaction from a principal. The case involves a US$90 000 debt they allegedly got from National Social Security Authority (NSSA) and reportedly purchased a Land Cruiser VX-L 200 series instead of a Mercedes Benz and instructed the purchase of air tickets worth US$10 215 to attend a wedding in South Africa and paying accommodation of R113 559 without approval.
In denying the charges, Mupfumira told Chief Magistrate Munamato Mutevedzi that there was no law that prevented Government ministries from purchasing their own cars and that also bars CMED (Pvt) Ltd from buying cars on behalf of the Government.
Masoka, on the other hand, told the court that he would not go all the way to abuse his office to please Mupfumira or any other person, saying he abided by his standard operating procedures as was expected of him by the employer.
The prosecution, led by Mr Jonathan Chingwinyiso called deputy chief secretary responsible for administration and finance Mr Martin Rushwaya to testify against Mupfumira and Masoka.
Mr Rushwaya spelt out the duties and responsibilities expected of a permanent secretary and ministers during their tenure of office.
He told the court that secretaries are accounting officers and are responsible of resourcing ministers.
CMED (Pvt) Ltd managing director Mr Davison Mhaka also gave his testimony, saying Mupfumira received a Range Rover and a Toyota Land Cruiser VX8 in 2015, as part of her personal service cars.
He told the court that Mupfumira also received a Jaguar in 2017.
“In March 2015, she received a Range Rover and later got a Toyota Land Cruiser VX8,” said Mr Mhaka. “Our records indicate that the Land Cruiser was purchased by the Ministry of Public Service and came to CMED for registration, meaning it was a personal service vehicle.
“We later received instructions through a letter written by Memory Mukondomi that the car be registered in CMED as a condition service vehicle.”
Mr Mhaka told the court that in 2017, Mupfumira was given a Jaguar after the Ministry of Public Service requested it as her personal service car.
He said he spoke to Mupfumira over the phone while she was requesting the release of the Jaguar.
“We refused, saying she had two cars already, but we later received a communication from the Ministry indicating that the Land Cruiser was a NSSA condition service vehicle,” said Mr Mhaka. “We then released the Jaguar.”
Mr Mhaka told the court that Mukondomi signed the correspondent on behalf of the permanent secretary.
He also told the court that Government policy required that a minister got two personal service cars only.
Mupfumira and Masoka are expected to return to court on July 27 for trial continuation.