By Harriet Chikandiwa
FORMER Zimbabwe Parks and Wildlife Management Authority (ZimParks) board vice-chair, Idah Mupamhanga, appeared in court yesterday facing criminal abuse of office charges.
Mupamhanga (62) appeared before Harare provincial magistrate Christopher Maturure, who granted her $100 bail.
It is alleged that on June 21, 2016, ZimParks, through its then commercial services director Tarisai Musonza, wrote to Mabalengwe Safaris, represented by Rodgers Madanhure, advising them not to renew their lease agreement for Matetsi Unit 1 — a hunting concession in Victoria falls — which was expiring at the end of that year.
The reason was that they had operated for a stipulated period of 10 years, according to section 37b of the Parks and Wildlife Act Chapter 20:14.
The court heard that Madanhure wrote back to ZimParks seeking an extension of the lease, but he was advised by Musonza that the concession would be auctioned to the public.
It is alleged that Mupamhanga, without a board resolution, unlawfully instructed the ZimParks legal department to prepare a memorandum of agreement of leasing Matetsi Unit 1 hunting concession.
It is alleged that Mupamhanga unlawfully received US$10 000 from Madanhure.
Upon receipt of the money, she allegedly concealed the transaction from the ZimParks board and transferred the money from her bank account into ZimParks account without disclosing to the board the nature of the transaction.
It is alleged that sometime in January 2017, Mupamhanga, without the knowledge of the board, entered into another memorandum of agreement to lease 19 Zambezi Lodges between ZimParks and Adage of Success (PVT) Ltd citing under-utilisation by ZimParks.
The court heard that in the same year, Mupamhanga called for a meeting which was attended by senior ecologist Roselyn Mandisodza and the then acting director-general Godfrey Matipano and told them that she wanted to venture into gold exploration inside protected areas to fund wildlife conservations.
Without the knowledge of the board, Mupamhanga allegedly instructed Mandisodza to look for a quotation for a metal detector and the ecologist obtained a quotation and proforma invoice of $11 000 from Excelight Investment.
The court heard that Mupamhanga instructed Mandisodza to advise the suppliers to split the amount and make two quotations.
Mandisodza was instructed to collect the metal detector for immediate use in detecting gold deposits in the ZimParks area.
It is alleged that Mupamhanga converted the gold detector to her own personal use.
The matter came to light after an audit was carried out and it was discovered that the purchase of the metal detector was not in line with the core business of ZimParks and it was also discovered that the proforma invoice was split into two to avoid going to tender.