By Mthulisi Mathuthu
SW Radio Africa
28 March 2014
Suspended ZBC CEO, Happison Muchechetere, was arrested Thursday on allegations that he inflated the price of an Outside Broadcasting (OB) van purchased from a Chinese firm last year.
Police spokesperson Charity Charamba confirmed the arrest saying Muchechetere was also questioned on cases involving tender procedures which occurred during the time he was at the helm of the ZBC. Muchechetere was later released after the police recorded a warned and cautioned statement.
It is alleged that Muchechetere misrepresented that the van was purchased for more than $1 million and yet it cost $100,000. Allegations are that in 2013 Muchechetere connived with officials from a Chinese firm and inflated the figure and fabricated receipts. It is also alleged that he shared the balance with the firm’s officials.
Muchechetere’s arrest comes after Prosecutor General Johannes Tomana said public executives who were recently exposed for earning ‘corrupt salaries’ will not be prosecuted because they had not committed any crimes. Muchechetere was among the first CEOs to be exposed and was forced on leave to pave the way for an audit, after it emerged that he was earning a ‘corrupt salary.’ Reports said between May 2009 and December 2013 Muchechetere pocketed as much as $2.3 million in salaries and allowances.
The MDC-T shadow minister for information Nelson Chamisa said Muchechetere’s arrest was a case of the ‘bigger fish targeting smaller ones.’
He said: ‘Muchechetere is just a small kapenta fish in the very large sea of corrupt enemies. We don’t want a situation where this so-called fight against corruption is reduced into a side show by the sharks targeting smaller fish.’
Last month, Information Minister Jonathan Moyo sounded a thinly veiled warning on what was to befall the suspended ZBC boss. Without mentioning Muchechetere by name Moyo said: ‘We have people who claim to have bought an OB van and they want to pretend that they bought it from Mars and only they know how much it costs. Yet we know that an OB van is just a combi.’
Moyo said this while addressing the Bulawayo Press Club.