State makes U-turn in Mzembi case

The State has reneged on an agreement it had made with former Foreign Affairs minister Walter Mzembi to have his passport temporarily released to him because the politician was now being investigated by the Zimbabwe Anti-Corruption Commission over corruption charges.

Former Foreign Affairs Minister Walter Mzembi at the Harare Magistrates Court
Former Foreign Affairs Minister Walter Mzembi at the Harare Magistrates Court

Prosecutor Sabastian Mutizirwa advised the court that the State was withdrawing its consent for Mzembi to be granted access to his passport for a business trip to South Africa and return it on February 19.

Sikhala objected to the sudden turn of events and ruling on the matter has been reserved to February 16 before Harare magistrate Rumbidzayi Mugwagwa.

Mzembi is jointly charged with former Energy minister Samuel Undenge on criminal abuse of office charges.

Mzembi and Undenge are currently on $400 bail coupled with conditions to report every Friday at Borrowdale and Highlands police stations, not to interfere with witnesses and to reside at their given addresses.

According to State papers, sometime in 2010, the ministry of Tourism and Hospitality in its bid to introduce Fan Parks for the 2010 World Cup in South Africa initiated a motion to acquire LED Public Viewing Area televisions for the public nationwide.

Allegations are that in its bid to get the screens the ministry applied and obtained funds from Treasury for the purchase of 40 screens amounting to $2 million.

The court heard that the money was deposited into Shanghai Linso Digital Technology Company’s China account as payment for the equipment.

It is alleged that the 40 television screens were delivered and received from China by the ministry of Tourism and entered into their Asset Registry.

“Accused (Mzembi) criminally abused his duty by intentionally and unlawfully disposing State assets namely 16 PVA television screens by means of donating, loaning or hiring them to various institutions and church organisations without approval from the ministry of Finance.

“The PVA screens are still being possessed by the various institutions and church organisations and are valued at $800 000. Government assets are not loaned to private parties. They are not donated, hired or transferred to other entities without authority from Treasury,” read part of Mzembi’s charge.

In Undenge’s case, it is alleged that on January 14, 2016, he gave a directive to Zimbabwe Power Company to engage Fruitful Communications without going to tender.

Prosecutor Linda Gadzikwa alleged that Fruitful Communications was supposed to disseminate information of all ZimAsset-based projects.

“As a result Fruitful Communications fraudulently invoiced $12 650 to ZPC which they were paid without doing any work,” read part of Undenge’s charge. DailyNews