PUBLISHER and political scientist Ibbo Mandaza allegedly diverted funds from the Southern African Political Economy Series (Sapes) Trust to his publishing house, rendering the organisation ins
olvent, it has been claimed.
Court documents obtained by the Zimbabwe Independent yesterday said Mandaza diverted funds and assets from Sapes to his publishing company, Southern Africa Printing and Publishing House (Sappho) which publishes the Daily Mirror and Sunday Mirror.
The allegations surfaced in an urgent High Court application this week in which Sapes executive director Mafa Sejanamane is suing Mandaza for unlawfully sending him on forced leave and barring him from executing his duties. In his affidavit, Sejanamane said Mandaza, who chairs the Sapes board of trustees, wanted him out of the trust because he had resisted attempts by the chairman to illegally transfer assets to Sappho. The court papers said Mandaza diverted at least $28 million from Sapes to Sappho.
“His organisation, Southern Africa Printing and Publishing House, owes Sapes Trust $28 million which is a small portion of money from the Ford Foundation grants and there are funds paid by Ford Foundation which are simply unaccounted for,” said Sejanamane.
The total grant from the Ford Foundation could not be established in the court papers.
Sejanamane said in his affidavit Sapes was now technically insolvent.
“Sapes Trust has become insolvent to the extent that it is not only unable to pay its trade creditors but it has not been able to pay salaries of its foreign recruited staff for the past three months,” said Sejanamane.
“(It) will not be able to make payments for the month of May 2003 and has not been able to pay its locally recruited staff for at least one month and will not be able to pay salaries for May 2003.”
He added: “The donor community from which Sapes Trust derives its principal support has become completely disenchanted and disillusioned and some donors have simply withdrawn their support and others are insisting on a proper audit of funds that they injected into the organisation.”
Sejanamane said two donors, Ford Foundation and African Capacity Building Foundation (ACBF), were keen to know how Sapes used funds donated.
The ACBF has already instituted a probe in which it concluded that the biggest threat to the existence of Sapes was the “excessive
protectiveness and desire to dominate and control its activities” by founder members.
The Ford Foundation was this month expected to commission an audit into the use of funds donated to Sapes.
Sejanamane said Mandaza had no authority to relieve him of his duties as only the board could take that decision. He said in the event of his being fired the Ford special audit might be prevented from taking place. He said Mandaza could also interfere with Sapes records which deal with the missing funds. He said Mandaza would also harass and intimidate staff at Sapes.
Sejanamane said on May 7 Mandaza forced staff to sign a memorandum designed to exonerate him (Mandaza) from the illegal transfer to himself of donor funds, in particular Ford Foundation grants.
Sappho experienced major financial problems between 1999 and 2001 and Sapes funds were used to fund some of its operations that culminated in a total expenditure of $35,9 million. Of this amount, $8,9 was officially designated as investment in Sappho whilst $27 million was designated as a cash loan.