POTRAZ boss Machengete trial postponed

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MOBILE network consumers in the country brace for a tougher season as the Postal and Telecommunications Regulatory Authority (POTRAZ) approved a 100% increase in tariffs by Mobile Network Operators (MNOs) and left the room for further upward reviews in the light of the tough operating environment , Zim Morning Post has learnt.

Postal and Telecommunications Regulatory Authority, (POTRAZ) director-general, Gift Machengete’s trial has been postponed for March 18 following an application by his legal counsel for the matter to be postponed.

Selby Hwacha who is representing Machengete pleaded with the court to postpone the matter as his client is currently in Victoria Falls for a work conference.

 Prosecuting, George Manokore did not oppose the application.

The POTRAZ boss is facing charges of criminal abuse of office after he allegedly engaged a local company to construct Container Village Information Centers (CVICs) valued at $1 494 104 without going to tender.

Sometime in December 2017, POTRAZ resolved to procure CVICs,which were going to be mounted nationwide.

In February last year, Machengete wrote to the Procurement Regulatory Authority of Zimbabwe (Praz) requesting a waiver of procurement regulations to enable the authority to purchase CVICs through quotations because container conversion was a specialized skill.

The court heard that on February 12 , Praz wrote back to Machengete advising them to procure through the normal tender process.

Instead, on February 15, Machengete, in violation of the Procurement Act approved a memo recommending sourcing of quotations for the supply of CVICs from four companies.

 It is alleged POTRAZ subsequently purchased 24 CVICs from B Smart Business Solutions at $70 682,95 each, totaling $1 494 104, through comparative schedule despite the fact that the value involved required competitive bidding in terms of the Procurement Act.

The State further alleges that Machengete, in his capacity as the chief accounting officer signed the contract between POTRAZ and B Smart Business Solutions for the supply and purchase of the CVICs.

 B Smart Business Solutions has since erected 20 CVICs and was paid $1, 032 755, 38.

Machengete is out on $500 bail and was ordered to surrender his passport with the clerk of court and report to the police twice a week on Mondays and Fridays.

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