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Corruption trial fails to take off

THE trial of Tobacco Industry Marketing Board (TIMB) chief executive officer Andrew Matibiri on allegations of criminal abuse of power that was supposed to be heard at the Mbare Magistrates court on Tuesday has been moved to February 16 after a state witness failed to turn up.

Matibiri is being charged with criminal abuse of power as a public officer as defined in the Criminal Law (Codification and Reform) Act after he allegedly illegally allocated himself eight growers’ numbers which allowed him to sell tobacco without the authority of the TIMB board.
It is the state’s case that sometime last year Matibiri allegedly allocated himself eight growers’ numbers and sold 1,8 million kg of tobacco belonging to Saltlakes Holdings.
Saltlakes Holdings is a company owned by controversial Zanu PF Mashonaland West secretary for lands Temba Mliswa who is into tobacco farming.
According to the state, the tobacco did not meet the requirements of the board and was from the previous season.
Matibiri is alleged to have abused his powers to save Saltlakes from a possible loss by deceiving his employer.
The main witness and complainant in the matter, TIMB chairperson Njodzi Machirori, did not turn up for the trial resulting in the postponement of the case.
Court papers show that Machirori told the police that Matibiri had flouted procedures that were to be followed in processing growers’ numbers.
“Every farmer must have one grower’s number with the approval of TIMB. The 30th of October every year is the deadline for registration with TIMB of every person who needs to grow tobacco in the country,” read the papers.
Matibiri, the state alleged, allocated himself grower numbers 120458, 157161, 157341, 157849, 159019 and 159446.
This, the state averred, was contrary to expectations from a public officer as the tobacco from Mliswa’s company had failed to sale on the auction floor because it was from the previous season.
Tobacco from the previous season, the court papers read, should not be sold on the auction floor but should be kept by the farmer with the approval of TIMB which outlines conditions under which tobacco should be kept.
Fanuel Madanire is representing the state.

 

Moses Matenga

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