HARARE – Boardroom fights at the government roads agency are so intense executives avoid talking to each other, a court heard on Wednesday.
This emerged as the Zimbabwe National Road Administration (ZINARA) finance director Mudzingwa Simon Taranhike pleaded not guilty to charges of criminal abuse of office over allegations he pressured another executive to release 1,800 litres of petrol coupons to a journalist.
Taranhike told Harare magistrate Hosea Mujaya at the start of his trial that the charges were fabricated by colleagues who are angling for the vacant chief executive officer’s post which was temporarily occupied by Mathlene Mujokoro.
It is his defence that he was also in the running for the post and had the potential to occupy it substantively.
“The power struggle brewed animosity and hatred between me and Mujokoro to an extent that she will seize any opportunity presenting itself to ensure that she ends my career at ZINARA. That was the order of the day,” reads part of his defence.
He told the court that the animosity emanates from a report written by him to ZINARA’s board chair which resulted in the arrest of 24 employees linked to vehicle licencing fee leakages.
“This did not go down well with the people who were benefitting from such corrupt activities hence concerted efforts were made to oust him from ZINARA systems for good as he had become a thorn in the flesh for those who wanted to execute their shoddy deals,” said Taranhike’s lawyer, Rekai Maphosa.
Prosecutors say Taranhike pressured ZINARA’s transport clerk Dennis Jakachira to release 1,800 litres of petrol coupons to a journalist without following proper procedures.
He maintains the incident never happened, adding that his department is not responsible for initiating and authorising the issuance of fuel.
Frank Hwenhira, the state’s main witness, said there was bad blood between Taranhike and Mujokoro.
Hwenhira, who is ZINARA’s legal officer, said the animosity was well known at the parastatal.
“I know about the bad blood between Mujokoro and Taranhike. I know this because it was an open secret. It was very topical at ZINARA,” Hwenhira told the court.
The trial continues Thursday.
Source: Zim Live