ZIMBABWE United Passenger Company (Zupco) chairman, Professor Charles Nherera, was recently quizzed by police over allegations of soliciting a US$345 000 bribe from bus supplier Jayesh Shah.
Police are investigating allegations that Nherera asked for a bribe from Shah, who wanted to sell buses to Zupco. It is alleged that the Zupco chairman asked for a US$5 000 bribe for every bus to facilitate the purchase of 69 Isuzu buses supplied by Shah’s company, Gift Investments, to the transport parastatal.
Police spokesperson Assistant Commissioner Wayne Bvudzijena confirmed that the police were investigating the case.
“Yes, we have recorded statements on the matter and we are still investigating,” Bvudzijena said.
He would not disclose further details.
Sources told the Zimbabwe Independent this week that Zupco’s vice chairperson, a Dr Zhanda, and other senior management officials were also called in by the police and warned and cautioned statements recorded from them. When the allegations were revealed, Nherera threatened to sue Shah for $100 million for defamation.
Mandaza, Muzangaza & Tomana legal practitioners are representing Nherera while Atherstone & Cook represent Shah.
“We address you at the instance of our above-named (Nherera) client who instructs us to demand, as we hereby do, payment to him of the sum of $100 million in damages for defamation arising out of your calculated malicious and false allegation against him that he demanded from you a bribe in the sum of US$5 000 per bus in order to facilitate a sale of your 69 buses to Zupco,” Nherera’s lawyers wrote to Shah.
“We understand that in making the defamatory allegation your intention was to cause your audiences to believe that our client was so corrupt that he did not deserve to be the chairman of the Zupco. We accordingly give you up to the end of business on August 11 2005 to pay up, failing which summons will be issued out of the High Court for the same relief,” Nherera’s lawyers wrote.
Nherera is yet to deliver the summons to Shah.
Contacted for comment on the matter, Shah said: “I was threatened with summons but they have not been served on me as yet. Therefore I cannot disclose any details to you.”
The sources also said National Housing minister Ignatious Chombo chaired a Zupco board meeting on March 21 this year on the corruption allegations.
At that meeting, it is alleged, Nherera denied knowledge of the Isuzu buses having been ordered by the minister and claimed never to have met Shah.