Munesushe Munodawafa appeals to President Mugabe
GUTU — In indigenous black folklore, kneeling before someone is an act of either reverence or fear.
But for Munesushe Munodawafa, the permanent secretary in the Ministry of Transport and Infrastructure Development, he had to do just that last week to put his case across to President Robert Mugabe, and possibly benefit from his benevolence.
He has been facing corruption allegations following an Air Zimbabwe (AirZim) insurance scam.
Although he was set free by a regional magistrate Hosiah Mujaya, who ruled that the case should proceed by way of summons after Munodawafa had been placed on remand for over six months, his fate in government currently hangs by a thread.
He was arrested last year over his alleged involvement in the US$305 000 AirZim fraud case which emanated from an accident involving an AirZim MA60 plane.
It is claimed that on November 3, 2009 the AirZim plane hit some wild pigs at the Harare International Airport resulting in the plane being written off. London-based re-insurer, Cartis Insurance Company then paid AirZim US$6,1 million in insurance claims.
However, in April 2010, Chartis, made a counter claim of exactly the same amount it paid AirZim, against the Civil Aviation Authority of Zimbabwe (CAAZ) for negligence by failing to institute safety measures at the airport.
The company also claimed a further US$2,4 million from CAAZ for loss of business by AirZim.
CAAZ then approached Munodawafa’s office for help over the matter, which led to the appointment of Navistar Insurance Brokers to go and negotiate an out of court settlement with Chartis in London. Navistar was reportedly appointed without going to tender.
When Navistar returned from London after successful negotiations with Chartis, Munodawafa is then alleged to have wrote a letter to AirZim’s accounting officer, Innocent Mavhunga, ordering him to pay Navistar a “success fee” of US$305 000.
With government leaving no stone unturned to punish those caught on the wrong side of the law, many believe that this case could signal Munodawafa’s last days in government.
But, some within the Transport Ministry said the only person who could save Munodawafa from the turbulence was none other than the appointing authority himself, President Mugabe.
And when he got the slightest opportunity to present his case before him in Gutu, Munodawafa did so while kneeling down.
Last Friday, he knelt before President Mugabe in front of several ZANU-PF officials and journalists at Chief Gutu, Edmund Masanganise’s homestead where the President had gone to console the family following the death of Anos Kasirai Masanganise, his uncle, three years ago.
In his speech, Chief Gutu told President Mugabe that Munodawafa had problems and wanted to meet the President to seek his intervention.
“President, pane mwana ari pano, Munodawafa, anoda rubatsiro rwenyu, anoda kukuonai (President, there is someone here who needs help and wishes to see you),” said Chief Gutu.
Before he had finished talking, Munodawafa sprang from where he was seated and went straight to where the President was seated, and kneeled before presenting his case in a hushed tone.
“I never said you can see the President here, I thought you can always make time to have a date with him,” added Chief Gutu upon seeing that Munodawafa had already gone to President Mugabe.
While addressing the gathering, President Mugabe seemed to confirm and suggest that Munodawafa’s job was hanging by a thread.
“Mukomana uye wamati ane nyaya, Munodawafa, ah ok, ndikati angaite nyaya yei secretary for transport? Kasi vari kuda kumutanda, kana kuti vari kuda kumuitei? (What issues can Munodawafa, the secretary for Transport possibly have? Do they want to fire him; what exactly do they want to do to him?” President Mugabe asked, before bursting into a mild laughter. He later promised to look into the matter.
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