Suspended ZBC Boss Granted Bail Over OB Van Case

Harare, March 29, 2014-Suspended Zimbabwe Broadcasting Corporation Group Chief Executive Officer Happison Muchechetere, who is facing charges of fraud involving US$800 000, has been granted bail.

 Muchechetere has been granted US$3 000 bail by Harare provincial magistrate Mr Douglas Chikwekwe.

He has been asked to surrender his travel documents, to report every Friday at CID serious fraud squad and not to interfere with evidence.

The State, represented by Mr Tungamirayi Chakurira, did not oppose bail and had proposed that the accused be granted US$5 000 bail.

However, Muchechetere’s lawyer submitted that the US$5 000 bail was astronomic.

They argued that the Criminal Procedure and Evidence Act Chapter 121 prohibits excessive bail and urged the court to use its discretion in determining the amount of bail.

The presiding magistrate then granted Muchechetere US$3 000 bail instead of the proposed US$5 000.

Muchechetere was arrested on the 27th of March on allegations of fraud, criminal abuse of duty as a public officer and contravening Section 35 of the Procurement Act Chapter 22:14.

It is alleged that on the 18th of January 2013, Muchechetere, without going to tender, entered into a procurement deal with a Chinese company to purchase an audio outside broadcasting (OB) van at a price of US$1 050 000.

The State further alleges that on the 23rd of April last year, he misrepresented to ZBC executive committee that the US$495 000 donated by the BancABC was enough to purchase an audio van, a cargo van and a crew bus and the committee approved the purchase of the items using the said money.

The State alleges that prior to the meeting, Muchechetere did not disclose to the committee that he had already entered into a purchasing deal to the tune of US$1 050 000 for only one item, which is the radio OB van.

It is also understood that he flew to China alone where he signed an agreement concerning the inspection of the van which was never carried out by other members of the executive committee.

The OB van was subsequently delivered to Zimbabwe in August last year after the BancABC released another US$100 000 to the Chinese company.

The offence was discovered after the suspension of the accused in November last year and it was established that the OB van had a market value of US$350 000 contrary to the US$1 050 000 prejudicing the national broadcaster of US$800 000.