Thursday, March 10, 2011
Energy Minister Mangoma arrested
by George Nyathi, Lebo Nkatazo & Eddie Chihwape
ENERGY and Power Development Minister Elton Mangoma was arrested on Thursday on corruption charges relating to a botched US$5 million fuel deal.
Mangoma, a member of Prime Minister Morgan Tsvangirai’s MDC party in the coalition government, was picked up from his Chaminuka Building offices by detectives from the Criminal Investigations Department (CID) Fraud Squad.
MDC spokesman Nelson Chamisa said: “We have just been informed that Minister Mangoma was picked up by the police in the morning. Information is still sketchy at the moment, although we have engaged our lawyers to find out what the actual charge is."
Prime Minister Morgan Tsvangirai would be issuing a statement “once we are clear why he has been arrested”, Chamisa added.
Police spokesman Senior Assistant Commissioner Wayne Bvudzijena said he would only have the full details of Mangoma's arrest later Thursday.
Mangoma’s arrest, however, was not unexpected. The Zanu PF side of the coalition government has accused him of corruption and flouting tender procedures.
Last week, The Financial Gazette reported that Mangoma was facing imminent arrest.
The paper said detectives, working with officials from the National Economic Conduct Inspectorate, were busy going through documents said to be linking the minister to corrupt conduct over the fuel procurement deal.
“There are suspicions in government that Mangoma could have used his clout to influence the selection of NOOA Petroleum for the supply of five million litres of fuel in a deal consummated at the beginning of this year. Tender procedures were reportedly not followed and NOOA Petroleum was not even registered on the list of companies allowed to do business with government by the State Procurement Board (SPB),” reported The Gazette's Njabulo Ncube.
The paper added that Charles Kuwaza, the chairman of the board, who has publicly stated that the South African company was not among the companies registered to participate in government tenders, has already been interviewed by the police in connection with the case.
The US$4,4 million paid to NOOA was for the purchase of five million litres of diesel for Matabeleland South province.
Mangoma sanctioned the purchase from the little-known South African petrol agent at the height of fuel problems in January.
NOOA Petroleum, in turn, contracted Mohwere Trading which sourced the fuel of Mozambique.
But only 1,5 million litres of diesel have been delivered to date - almost three months after the purchase of the fuel which should have been delivered in 48 hours in January.