Maziwisa walks free from prison, Pambuka remains behind bars
HARARE – Former Highfield legislator Psychology Maziwisa will have an opportunity to cast his vote in Wednesday’s polls after being granted early release from prison.
Maziwisa had served six months behind bars of an initial 40-month prison term for defrauding the Zimbabwe Power Company (ZPC) of US$12,650 in a media scam.
Maziwisa and his partner, former ZBC News anchor Oscar Pambuka, were convicted of two counts of fraud in January for claiming payment from ZPC for media coverage that was provided for free by ZBC.
They also attempted to get another US$36,000 from ZPC for similar services that were never rendered.
The duo appealed against their conviction and sentence at the Harare High Court, but their appeal was dismissed as fatally defective and incurable at law. They were supposed to serve 40 months in prison, but they managed to evade arrest for four months until they were finally apprehended last week.
Maziwisa was later arrested at the High Court where he wanted to file another appeal, while Pambuka was arrested at his home.
They were taken to Harare Magistrates Court where they were formally committed to prison.
However, Maziwisa’s lawyers recently successfully applied for the charges to be quashed. Pambuka remains in prison and will not be able to vote in Wednesday’s polls.
Maziwisa and Pambuka were accused of using their company, Fruitful Communications, to secure a tender from former Energy Minister Samuel Undenge to do public relations work for Zesa Holdings and its subsidiaries, including ZPC. This was despite the fact that Zesa had its own functional public relations department.
The two then invoiced ZPC for US$12,650 for radio coverage that was aired on ZBC between January and February 2016. The coverage was part of the ZimAsset Media Campaign that ZBC had offered for free to all government departments and parastatals.
ZPC paid the invoice without verifying whether the services were actually provided by Fruitful Communications. The two then tried to get another US$36,000 from ZPC for similar coverage that never took place. ZPC did not pay the second invoice after conducting an investigation and discovering that it had been duped.
Maziwisa and Pambuka denied the charges during trial and claimed that they were politically motivated. They admitted that they had invoiced ZPC for the coverage, but insisted that they had rendered the services in terms of an agreement with ZPC.