A key State witness in the matter involving Zimbabwe National Road Administration (ZINARA) finance director Simon Taranhike has told the court that he is a mere victim of internal squabbles and professional jealousy in the parastatal, the court heard.
Testifying before Harare magistrate Hosea Mujaya, Zinara’s head of the Legal department Frank Hwenhira made indications to the effect that Taranhike who is facing charges of criminal abuse of office had no powers to release fuel to anyone.
Taranhike pleaded not guilty to charges of releasing 1 800 litres of fuel to some members of media in a bid to buy their silence on ongoing investigations of the parastatal.
“There is a procedure that is followed when fuel is being allocated to anyone at Zinara and there is a department that is solely in charge of handling all fuel matters and Taranhike can not authorise any fuel allocation without seeking permission from relevant authorities,” said Gwenhira.
“There was acrimony between the Finance director Simon Taranhike and one Mathlene Mujokoro who was Zinara’s acting chief executive officer as they were competing for the position as Mujokoro was also gunning for the top post.
“Nineteen Zinara officials were arrested in connection with similar charges at the instigation of Taranhike and of those, one was Mujokoro’s relative and this caused problems which later saw charges being raised against Taranhike as a way of smearing his name.”
In his defense, Taranhike through his lawyers submitted before the court that charges against him were malicious and a mere reflection of the internal politics of Zinara at play.
“There were some fighting for the post of a chief executive (CEO) with the one Mathlene Mujokoro who has since resigned and yet she is the brains behind all these allegations since by then she was the acting CEO and the finance director was lined up for appointment as the chief executive officer for ZINARA.”
The matter was rolled over to tomorrow for continuation of trial.
Allegations are that sometime on the date unknown to the State, the finance director Simon Taranhike released 1 800 litres of fuel to some members of the local media and abused the parastatal’s petty cash.
The witness made it clear before the court, that vTaranhike is a victim of a smear campaign and professional jealousy .