Zimbabwe News and Internet Radio

Air Zimbabwe boss denies rift with Minister

By Lance Guma

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HARARE – Air Zimbabwe board chairman Ozias Bvute has come out fighting and denied a report by Nehanda Radio alleging that he has fallen out with Local Government Minister Ignatius Chombo and the Zanu PF MP is behind a sensational plot to have him arrested on corruption allegations.

Who has more dirty over the other: Ignatius Chombo vs Ozias Bvute
Who has more dirty over the other: Ignatius Chombo vs Ozias Bvute

In an exclusive interview with Nehanda Radio, Bvute said “There is absolutely no truth in this assertion which can only be a figment of one’s fertile imagination.

“For the record, I enjoy healthy and cordial relations with Honourable Minister Chombo, which leaves me wondering if your claim that he wants to cause my arrest over made-up charges is not some nonsensical stuff concocted and purveyed by people with ulterior motives.”

Sources close to developments have told us Bvute stepped on Chombo’s toes and the wealthy minister is retaliating by setting the police onto him. The plot involves, dusting from the closet, several corruption allegations dating back to when Bvute was head of Zimbabwe Cricket (ZC).

The source of the feud is a cricket ground that was supposed to be built in Victoria Falls. Chombo is claiming ownership of the land while Bvute also wants a piece of that land claiming Chombo acquired it corruptly using cricket as a cover. Bvute was said to be threatening to spill the beans over the matter.

However Bvute told Nehanda Radio “let me state categorically that I have no personal interest whatsoever – yesterday, today or tomorrow – in any piece of land in Victoria Falls. Neither am I aware of Honourable Minister Chombo’s alleged interest in any land, anywhere.”

It was also alleged there were moves to have Bvute’s Green Card revoked so that he cannot flee the country if he is arrested. Bvute insisted “I am not a holder of an American residence permit, commonly referred to as the Green Card. I have never sought one and I do not intend to seek one in the future.”

“I or my spouse are not even allowed to enter the United States after the United States government slapped a travel ban on me on the pretext of my links to the government of Zimbabwe.

“I am sure you are also aware that the European Union and Australia have banned me from travelling to or doing business in their countries primarily for the role I proudly played in advancing the mass participation of black Zimbabweans in cricket,” Bvute maintained.

According to a list of Zimbabwean officials listed on the US Department of Treasury website and also on the US embassy website, Bvute’s name is not among those banned from travel to the US. Only Australia placed his name on a travel ban while the EU at one time had banned his former boss Peter Chingoka.

We understand Chombo wants to use allegations that Bvute embezzled funds from Zimbabwe Cricket. Bvute was “CEO at Zim Cricket and Peter Chingoka and Wilson Manase were chairman and Vice respectively. They altogether sit on the Metropolitan Bank board as directors,” Nehanda Radio was told.

“They would give Zim Cricket loans at exorbitant interest rates and now ZC is in debt to the tune of US$16 million. What they did is to get ZC caught up in a debt they will never be able to repay and in the end ZC will forever owe MetBank and MetBank will be benefiting from the interest accrued.”

Chombo also intends to sink Bvute on allegations that he connived with Croco Motors to import cars from Japan under the cover that they belonged to Zim Cricket so as to not pay duty and then sell them off for a huge profit. The deal allegedly involved Croco Motors Chief Executive Farai Matsika.

Bvute told Nehanda Radio “I have deliberately not responded to your other false allegations concerning the various business entities you have mentioned because I cannot speak on their behalf or comment on issues affecting their business without first consulting them.”

In June 2012 Bvute resigned from Zimbabwe Cricket and was replaced by his deputy Wilfred Mukondiwa. He never fully explained his reasons only saying “I have relished the job for the last few years and look forward to remaining involved in the years to come, albeit in a different capacity.”

Nehanda Radio understands Chombo has already deployed his sons to build up the case and recruit witnesses who will nail Bvute on the corruption allegations. We also understand Police Commissioner Augustine Chihuri has already pledged his cooperation in getting the Air Zimbabwe boss arrested.

Bvute has meanwhile told Nehanda Radio “If for any reason I am to be arrested as you prophesy, as a law-abiding citizen I will have no qualms facing justice and if I have committed a crime surely I should pay for my actions. After all, we live in a society where the rule of law prevails.”

Chombo also has a lot to lose. As reported by Nehanda Radio previously, the minister’s wealth was exposed in 2010 during a messy divorce involving his wife of 25 years, Marian. Court documents exposed the fact that Chombo, a former teacher, had tentacles in virtually all sectors of the economy.

The minister has interests in several farms, mines, hunting safari lodges in Chiredzi, Hwange, Magunje and Chirundu, as well as properties in South Africa. Local properties included 75 residential and commercial stands plus 14 houses and 5 flats, all dotted around the country. Not to mention 15 vehicles.

When a probe team of Harare City Councillors produced a report implicating Chombo and businessman Philip Chiyangwa in the illegal acquisition of council land on the cheap, the police refused to investigate the matter. Instead the councillors and journalists who covered the saga were arrested.

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