By Gift Phiri
A self-confessed hit man has testified to the police alleging a senior government official issued him an assassination order to take out former Foreign Affairs minister Walter Mzembi.
The official, Tourism and Hospitality Industry permanent secretary Bradah Maunganidze, has dismissed the allegations as lies.
Munyaradzi Mupazviripo filed the damning report at Borrowdale Police Station on January 24 at 19:49 hours, providing granular details of how the government official allegedly gave him instructions in May 2015 to carry out the extra-judicial killing.
The 44-year-old assassin claimed the official told him he would receive a $50 000 cash payment for executing Mzembi.
The docket was recorded by a constable J Mapfumo, force number 063184.
The case is recorded under RRB number 0242860061 and CR 345/01/18.
Mupazviripo, who is currently in hiding, said he has now been targeted for disobeying the order and was living in fear of being murdered.
In his raw account in the docket, he said his refusal to carry out the assignment means he was as good as dead.
“I am a male adult and the true bearer of the above-mentioned particulars.
“I know the accused . . . not only in connection with this case but he is my brother,” Mupazviripo said in his recorded police statement.
“Sometime in 2014, I was employed by the accused person to work as his manager at his farm in Masvingo close to Nemamwa Sikato farm. I went to the farm, took over everything at the farm, including a .303 rifle with a magazine of three rounds.
“I stayed at the farm for almost a year. In May 2015, the accused person came to the farm. The accused person told me that I must go to (a named bank in Masvingo) to see the manager and be given $50 000. I was not given the money by the manager at the bank. The accused said the money was for my self-use. All this was done in a phone conversation.
“The accused later came to the farm in the same month and he started talking about military training and how to eliminate people. The accused said he was trained to kill and steal.”
Mupazviripo said he was then told to use the 303 rifle at the farm “to eliminate … Mzembi, who owns a farm a distance from ours.”
“The accused told me that Mzembi is the one who is disturbing him at his workplace and I must deal with him using the .303 rifle at the farm,” the police report says.
“The accused went on and told me that he will give me the farm and that the assignment of eliminating by killing Mzembi has many people and an award will be given to the one who first eliminates Mzembi.
“The accused promised me that if I do the job, I will take the farm and he will deposit $50 000 in my account.
“I did not admit to what was being said by the accused person. He drove and went away.
“I then later phoned the accused person and told him I cannot do what he had ordered me to do and I am going to handover the gun (.303 rifle) to police.
“I later handed over the gun to one called Nemukuyu who was to hand over the accused the gun. I then moved from Masvingo to Harare.”
Mupazviripo claimed in 2016, “the accused started calling me to return to the farm and threatening me that he will make me go to jail because of what I had done.”
“In 2017 in November, the accused phoned me and started insulting me, threatening that I was going to jail and I am a G40 cabal,” Mupazviripo said in his police report.
“The accused is always calling me on the phone threatening that I will go to jail this year without fail.
“That is the reason why I made this report to the police. I am also afraid of the threats that I am receiving from the accused person. This is all I can say in connection with this case for now.”
The accused, however, denies involvement in the alleged murder-for-hire plot against Mzembi.
He described Mupazviripo’s testimony as lies, fabrications and a product of a fertile and a coached imagination.
He also denied Mupazviripo’s account and accusations that he had now targeted the hit man.
Asked if he had ordered Mupazviripo to kill Mzembi, Maunganidze said: “When did I give him that job? He is crazy. He has repeated these allegations, acting like a mad man. He uses that narrative to extort money. He should be ashamed of himself, when did I send him?”
Told that Mupazviripo claims they were brothers and he had asked him to stay at him farm in Nemamwa in Masvingo, he retorted: “We are not buddies. He has stayed at my farm after he asked to farm tomatoes. He stole from me and I reported him to the police. He is foolish. I’m not related to him, yet he claims I am his brother, we are not related at all.”
Asked to respond to claims that he was threatening to get Mupazviripo jailed for defying his order to take out Mzembi, Maunganidze said: He is talking nonsense. He has criminal cases against him at the Harare Central Police Station. Don’t even listen to him.”
Told about the police report filed against him at Borrowdale Police Station, Maunganidze said: “That has nothing to do with me.”
He also denied that he had given Mupazviripo the .303 rifle — the British standard infantry weapon — to kill Mzembi.
Maunganidze said: “He stole that gun and we got him arrested. We then retrieved the weapon where he had hidden it. He was at our farm taking custody of our property, that’s when he stole the gun and gave it to his uncle. He also stole other items like refrigerators. So he has theft cases.”
He also staunchly denied allegations that he ordered the assassination of Mzembi.
“Why would I kill Mzembi whom I am related to, why would I kill him? He is mentally-unbalanced, don’t listen to him),” he told the Daily News.
Mzembi declined to comment on the plot, referring questions to his lawyer Job Sikhala, who said Mupazviripo approached his client at the Harare Magistrates’ Courts where the former Foreign minister is being charged with “criminal abuse of office”.
He is out on bail on the charge, and denies any wrongdoing.
Sikhala told the Daily News: “I saw the claimant pulling my client on last remand appearance at the Rotten Row Magistrates’ Court’.
“I didn’t wait to hear what he was telling him. Mzembi caught up with me by the car park and briefed me about what he was told by the hired assassin who pulled him aside that he was hired sometime ago to kill him by one Maunganidze whom I don’t even know.
“He (Mzembi) said the purported hired person was a Mupazviripo. I digressed over the issue and requested to meet him and hear his story. We met him and he gave us the narration of how, where and when he was hired and the purpose of the mission and many other stories.
“It is true that the said Mupazviripo approached Mzembi to volunteer the mission he was assigned to do.”
In a terse statement, police spokesperson senior assistant commissioner Charity Charamba said the report “is false”.
In an interview with the Daily News, the assassin said he had conducted many covert operations, notably in the areas of propaganda and psychological warfare.
He said in his last mission, he was assigned as an agent to infiltrate and monitor the State broadcaster, Zimbabwe Broadcasting Corporation. Daily News