Deputy procurement director in the Ministry of Environment, Climate, Tourism and Hospitality Industry, Blessed Ishmael Murwira Majiga, who is at the centre of a national cloud-seeding aircraft tender scam, was yesterday denied bail by a Harare regional magistrate.
Mr Ngoni Nduna refused to bail out Majiga, saying there was overwhelming evidence against him and he was likely to face a custodial sentence upon conviction.
Majiga is said to have recommended the awarding of a tender to JR Investments knowing that the firm’s planes were faulty, grounded and not fit for the national programme.
The State, led by Mrs Netsai Mushayabasa, opposed bail, saying Majiga was a flight risk and was likely to interfere with witnesses since he had once tampered with some evaluation minutes.
Circumstances leading to his arrest are that on September 15 last year, the ministry called for bidders for two aircraft stationed in Harare and Bulawayo for national cloud-seeding operations.
Bidders had to provide two aircraft with twin engines with full-propeller, air frame de-icing, cloud-seeding, flare dispenser and two-way communication for the pilot and seeding officer.
The aircraft had to be suitable to fly through turbulent clouds and be available throughout the cloud-seeding operation.
An evaluation team comprising Norman Duri, Linear Gopo, someone called Matenda and Tamuka Zivurawa, was set up to evaluate the aircraft, with Majiga as team leader.
JR Investments, Nineteen Twenty (Pvt) Ltd, Cypritaf (Pvt) Limited and Central Air Transport Services (Pvt) Limited, responded to the ministry’s call for bidders.
Mr Zinyandu alleges that JR Investments submitted its bid despite knowing that their planes were grounded and that the other one was registered for private use.
On November 4 last year, the evaluation team inspected JR Investments’ Baron 58, registration Z-NAB, where it noted that it did not fit the required tender specifications.
The same day, the team inspected Nineteen Twenty’s aircraft and noted that it could not be modified for cloud-seeding.
They went to Cypritaf (Pvt) Limited, where two twin-engine aircraft with their documentation, were produced.
These had two flare dispenser units mounted and the cloud-seeding equipment was demonstrated in a ground test.
The firing mechanisms and the flare dispenser units were also shown during evaluation.
On November 9, 2020, a further evaluation was held at JR Investments offices in Avondale, where the firm only produced two cloud-seeding doors.
Majiga then led his team to Marondera Aerodrome to inspect another plane from JR Investments and discovered it was grounded and sitting on jacks and was branded “JR Investments HAC”.
On that day, Majiga, Duri and Zivurawa, used their own vehicles to travel to Marondera for evaluations instead of using Government vehicles.