Ex-Minister is broke and looking for a job

Samuel Undenge

FORMER Energy minister Samuel Undenge says he is struggling to raise money to travel from Chimanimani to Harare where he was ordered to report at the police as part of his bail conditions and is “job hunting”.

The ex-minister told this to a Harare magistrate Tilda Mazhande on Monday resulting in his bail conditions being altered.

Undenge will now be reporting once every fortnight pending his trial but his passport will remain with the clerk of court and other conditions remain unchanged.

“Travelling to Harare every Friday is now a burden to him since he is no longer employed,” said his lawyer Alex Muchadehama.

He added, “He is having challenges in raising money for transport to continue coming to court from Chimanimani where he is now doing farming. He is job hunting and hence this reporting condition is an unnecessary burden on his part.”

But prosecutor Michael Reza unsuccessfully challenged the application saying there were no changed circumstances.

Reza also submitted that by relocating to Chimaninmani Undenge was already in breach of his bail conditions since he was ordered to reside at his Harare home.

But Muchadehama told court that his client has not permanently relocated.

Initially he was reporting once every week and last week he unsuccessfully challenged placement on remand after complaining that the state was taking too long to try him.

He will be back in court on April 3.

Mazhande has warned the state to give Undenge a trial date or she will remove him from remand.

The magistrate said there was no need to be harsh on the ex-minister since he has been attending court religiously.

Undenge is accused of fraudulently awarding Fruitful Communications a contract without going to tender prejudicing the state of $12 650. Through his lawyers he had applied for his release arguing that the state was taking too long to try him.

He landed in the dock after he favoured Zanu PF legislator for Highfield, Psychology Maziwisa and former ZBC News anchor Oscar Pambuka who owns Fruitful Communications.

Undenge allegedly hand -picked their company to do public relations work for Zimbabwe Power Company (ZPC) which is the complainant in this case.

Court heard the two were hired despite the fact that Zesa Holdings has a fully-fledged public relations department whose personnel are still on its payroll.

The arrangement resulted in the power utility losing thousands of dollars as Zesa had to pay Fruitful Communications consultations fees at the same time paying its employees’ salaries.

Court heard Fruitful Communications was paid $12 650 for the projects.

Prosecutors said ZPC could have suffered a prejudice of 36 000 for the projects.