VICE-PRESIDENT Joice Mujuru, widely-tipped as President Robert Mugabe’s successor, has been named in the Ziscosteel scandal in a report compiled by
the National Economic Conduct Inspectorate (NECI), an elite government crime-investigation unit run by state security.
One of the three volumes of the confidential NECI report on Zisco obtained this week, marked “Secret” also names co-Vice-President Joseph Msika although it says supporting documents as to whether he got something or not were not availed to the investigation team. Msika has said Zisco was not looted.
But NECI says Zisco finances were raided through questionable contracts and a string of payments covering services, airfares, hotel bookings, purchases of goods, foreign currency, directors’ fees, management expenses and entertainment allowances.
Government has of late been scrambling to bury the report to hide its disclosures while ministers have been trying to obfuscate the issue.
The report says Mujuru was paid US$11 000 as allowances by Ziscosteel subsidiaries in Botswana, Ramotswa/Tswana Iron & Steel, on October 4 2003.
“On the 4th of October 2003 US$11 000 was purchased to provide some allowance for Mrs J Mujuru who was in Botswana,” it says. “The other point to note is that this foreign currency acquired is not properly accounted for and it is mostly used to meet ‘advances’ to visitors.”
The report submitted to Mugabe also says Mujuru received 30 000 litres of fuel from Zisco for her celebrations after she was elected vice-president in 2004. Zanu PF got 30 000 litres of diesel and 30 000 litres of petrol for its 2003 conference worth Pula 64 860 and P59 310 respectively.
Zisco is facing a serious financial crisis due to poor capitalisation and mounting debts. This detail is contained in the thick Volume 1 of NECI’s report.
According to the report, Mujuru had an air ticket bought for her for P8 094,80 for a trip to Botswana, while a room for her was booked from October 3-6 2003 by Zisco’s marketing executive Rodwell Makuni at Grand Palm Hotel Casino & Convention Resort in Gaborone.
More than P150 000 was spent on hotel bookings for top government officials and Zisco managers, especially at the five-star Grand Palm Hotel where VIPs spent public funds on food and drink, often over weekends.
“At times more than two rooms were booked using one name in a bid to hide the identity of the other guests. For instance, Mr R Makuni was booked in rooms 543, 544, and 547 from 03/10/2003 to 06/10/2003,” the report says.
“During the same period some of the room service receipts were being signed by Mr (Shelton) Chivhere, the company (Romotswa) business manager, on behalf of the ‘mystery guests’. This means that there were two or more guests being catered for using Mr Makuni’s name. The booking requisition shows the names of Mrs J Mujuru, Mr (Tirivanhu) Mudariki and Mr Makuni.”
Prominent cabinet ministers Samuel Mumbengegwi, Olivia Muchena and Sithembiso Nyoni are also mentioned in the report as some of those who could have benefited from the generous handouts from the government-owned company. Muchena this week said she did not travel to Botswana at the time even though she was invited. The NECI report says she was bought a ticket.
The report confirms Mumbengengwi was paid a US$3 000 “allowance” while he was attending a Sadc meeting in Gaborone on July 17 2003. He also had P3 152, 80 paid for his hotel booking at the Cresta Lodge in Botswana on May 8 2004.
The NECI report names Higher Education minister Stan Mudenge, Justice minister Patrick Chinamasa, former Zanu PF MP Mudariki and the late ruling party MP Gibson Munyoro as beneficiaries but also points out that in their case — just as in Msika’s — documents were not made available to investigators.
“The company (Ramotswa/Tswana) also bought air tickets for non-Zisco officials. These include Mrs J Mujuru, Mrs S Nyoni (and) Dr O Muchena who had nothing to do with Zisco in their official capacities then, to mention a few government ministers, and Mr Mudariki,” the report says.
Annexure 22 of the report has a schedule showing the air tickets bought and the names of passengers.
The report says Mujuru and Mudariki’s tickets were for the Harare-Gaborone-Harare route, while Muchena, Nyoni and Mudariki’s tickets bought through Koy Tours & Travel on June 17 2004 were for the Harare-Johannesburg-Gaborone legs. Mujuru’s ticket cost P8 094,80 and the others P16 625.
The report states Muchena’s ticket was for the Harare-Johannesburg-Gaborone-Johannesburg-Harare trip and its invoice number was 764.
Nyoni and Mudariki’s tickets had the same details. Another ticket was bought for Mudariki on May 24 2003. Altogether P92 924,40 was paid for the air tickets. Muchena says she declined the trip to Botswana. No comment could be obtained from Mujuru or Msika.