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Mzembi, Chidhakwa face arrest for graft

By Kuda Bwititi

The Zimbabwe Anti-Corruption Commission is investigating former Cabinet ministers Dr Walter Mzembi and Mr Walter Chidhakwa for corruption and abuse of office.

Foreign Affairs Minister Dr Walter Mzembi with wife Barbara
Former Foreign Affairs Minister Dr Walter Mzembi with wife Barbara

Zacc sources told The Sunday Mail that there was reasonable suspicion the two pampered themselves with money illegally acquired during their stints in Government.

Anti-graft agents are also onto former Secretary for Higher and Tertiary Education, Science and Technology Development Professor Francis Gudyanga for allegedly siphoning US$230 000 from the Zimbabwe Manpower Development Fund.

Prof Gudyanga is already in remand prison on separate charges of corruption and abuse of office stemming from his time as Secretary for Mines and Mining Development. He allegedly dissolved the Minerals Marketing Corporation of Zimbabwe board in December 2013 and assumed the chairmanship until September 2016.

It is alleged he corruptly received board fees and sitting allowances totalling US$28 910 in contravention of the MMCZ Act (Chapter 21:04) which says a board comprises at least six members and a maximum of 10.

MMCZ, according to the State, did not have a board at the time, meaning the money was not due to him. The Sunday Mail understands investigators suspect Prof Gudyanga colluded with Mr Chidhakwa, who was Mines and Mining Development Minister at the time.

Zacc is reportedly also interested in a case in which Mr Chidhakwa allegedly used his influence to unlawfully grant tax exmeption to a mining firm, which then made a hefty payment to an organisation linked to the former minister.

Dr Mzembi’s alleged abuse of office relates to vehicles he got during the United Nations World Tourism Organisation General Assembly which Zimbabwe and Zambia co-hosted in 2013.

Dr Mzembi, who was Tourism and Hospitality Industry Minister then, also allegedly awarded contracts to his wife, Barbara, without going to tender.

In his latest case, Prof Gudyanga is accused of routing US$230 000 from Zimdef to a teacher training college in Harare and then to Tsholotsho Rural District Council under dubious circumstances. Sources said the council rejected the money because it did not understand the legality of its origins.

Contacted for comment, Zacc principal public relations officer Ms Phyllis Chikandura said: “I am away on leave, so I’m not aware of anything like that.” However, our sources described the cases against the two ex-ministers as “solid”.

“Chidhakwa is suspected to have been complicit in allowing Prof Gudyanga to run a one-man MMCZ board for a considerable period . . . He also used his powers to offer tax exemption, which he is believed to have arranged with the company in question. The same company was also involved in suspicious projects that involved Chidhakwa.

“There are other charges of some dealings that were taking place at the Ministry of Mines, which Chidhakwa needs to answer to,” one source said.

Another added: “(In the Dr Mzembi) case, cars were purchased during the United Nations World Tourism Organisation General Assembly but were later converted to personal ownership. There were also contracts that did not go to tender and were given to Mzembi’s wife.

“And Zimdef is also being investigated for shelling out tens of thousands of dollars to Manicaland and Marondera state universities when the two institutions were, in fact, not in existence.”

Corruption is one of the negatives weighing down Zimbabwe’s economy, and President Emmerson Mnangagwa has vowed to crack down on it. Former Finance Minister Ignatius Chombo was recently arrested for corruption and abuse of office.

He allegedly connived with Psychology Chiwanga, R Pazvakavambwa, Iben Fransisco, James Chiyangwa, Theresa Chenjerayi, Elias Choto and L Chimimba to forge documents to transfer a Glen Lorne, Harare property from the Harare City Council to one Alois Chimeri.

He allegedly committed the offence during his stint as Local Government, Public Works and National Housing Minister. Chombo is also accused of using his influence as Local Government Minister to arm twist the Harare City Council to allocate him residential stand Number 61 Helensvale, Harare which measures 193 716 square metres.

It is alleged he developed cluster houses on the land. Initially, the City of Harare had asked Chombo to use the land for recreational purposes, but he allegedly took the land for himself through Harvest-Net Enterprises, a company he co-directed then. Chombo is out of custody on bail. The Sunday Mail