FORMER MP and businessman Tirivanhu Mudariki, who together with senior government officials including Vice-President Joice Mujuru, have been linked to th
e Ziscosteel looting saga, is a key business partner of the Mujuru family.
Mudariki and the vice-president were named by the National Economic Conduct Inspectorate (NECI) as some of the officials who benefited from pillaging Zisco.
NECI says the two travelled together to Botswana a few years ago, at one time in October 2003, on Zisco resources although their mission had nothing to do with the government-owned company in their official capacities.
Enquiries by the Zimbabwe Independent show Mudariki, who is involved in mining, tourism and wildlife sectors, is a business partner of Vice-President Mujuru’s husband, retired army commander General Solomon Mujuru.
Rtd Gen Mujuru and Mudariki, representing Kupikile Resources, have lately been embroiled in a court battle over River Ranch diamond mine with Bubye Minerals which claims to own 70% of the mine in Beitbridge.
Mujuru and Mudariki were appointed directors of River Ranch on April 27 2004 following an annual general meeting held by majority owners of the mine, Rani International Ltd.
Mujuru and Bubye officials have appeared before the Anti-Corruption ministry to explain themselves over the murky dispute.
Bubye was originally given the right to operate River Ranch by liquidator of the mine Peter Bailey of KPMG after its original owners, Auridium of Australia, pulled out seven years ago citing falling diamond prices on the international market.
Bubye’s directors include Michael Farquhar and his wife Adelle, and Sibonokuhle Moyo, wife to Zimbabwe’s ambassador to South Africa, Simon Khaya Moyo.
Bubye, which took control of River Ranch in 1999 following Auridium’s withdrawal, accused Rani International, Southern African Development and Kupikile Resources of “unlawfully and forcibly” seizing the diamond mine. But Rani International said Bubye was kicked out after it failed to pay its debts.
Mudariki is a local director of Rani Resorts, a tourism development company owned by Rani International which has interests in Zimbabwe’s mining, tourism, and wildlife sectors. Rani wants to invest in Kariba and Gonarezhou national parks.
Apart from his travels to Botswana with Vice-President Mujuru on Zisco resources, Mudariki is linked to Harare-based Rochive Consultants which provided a bulldozer to the Redcliff-based integrated steelworks firm for questionable payments.
“Rochive belongs to one T Mudariki. The company’s association with Zisco from records availed to NECI dates back to year 2002. The company has been paid by Zisco for three years,” NECI says in its Zisco report.
“It started from a modest $12 477 721,75 in 2002 to an astronomical figure of $1 580 187 677 in 2004. The figure of $1,5 billion paid to Rochive in 2004 is a huge amount of money paid for the services of one piece of equipment, a bulldozer.”
NECI questioned how Rochive was identified to provide its bulldozer to Zisco. Sources say Mudariki and Vice-President Mujuru went to Botswana in 2003 on a business mission which appeared to be connected with Zisco albeit unofficially. It remains unclear so far what their interest in Zisco was.
However, this has raised eyebrows because of reports that there were politicians trying to buy Zisco’s Botswana subsidiaries, Ramotswa and Tswana Iron & Steel, collectively known as Unabo.
NECI investigators who went to Botswana to probe the Zisco graft discovered plans were already under way to sell the two subsidiaries for US$3 million to undisclosed buyers by repaying their parent firm funds that were used to controversially purchase them in 2001.
Zisco was overpaid by the owners of the subsidiaries by more than US$500 000 but Zisco officials have failed to explain who benefited from this. It was suspected that this was a way of transferring money to Botswana by Zisco officials on the pretext of acquiring the companies. It remains a mystery who pocketed the US$500 000.