ZANU PF’s printing flagship, Jongwe Printers, is reeling under financial stress following the abuse of a $17,5 billion loan facility from the Reserve Bank of Zimbabwe (RBZ)
for the purchase of a printing press.
Former managing director, Tawanda Murerekwa, was dismissed for bungling the purchase deal which saw the company acquire a printing press limited to printing school exercise books using local paper.
The press can only print newspapers using expensive imported paper.
Jongwe Printing & Publishing (Pvt) Ltd, a company run by the ruling party, received the first loan installment of $12,5 billion under the Public Sector Fund (PSF) meant for the purchase of a printing press. Three months later in April it received an additional $5 billion for the same purpose.
Sources say Murerekwa, who ran the company single-handedly before he hired three other people to assist him, made several trips abroad to source a printing press. One of the financial managers, Febbie Shonhiwa, also resigned.
On other trips he would take along disgraced Zanu PF Manicaland provincial chairman, Mike Madiro, to look for a printing press.
Madiro was part of the Jongwe Printers board.
The trips resulted in the purchase of a press unsuitable for producing newspapers.
Sources say Jongwe Printers then went into producing exercise books under the Genius brand name. The venture collapsed despite an extensive advertising campaign on both radio and television for the schoolbooks.
A large stock of unsold exercise books remains piled in a warehouse at the printer’s premises, the sources say.
“What has surprised many people at the company is that soon after Murerekwa was dismissed in March he imported six long-haul vehicle horses which he collected from Durban. The party has not done anything to recover the money borrowed from the RBZ under PSF,” the source said adding: “the company is reeling under serious debt stress.”
An equal number of light trucks purchased purportedly for newspaper distribution remain unacccounted for since the managing director’s dismissal.
Zanu PF secretary for publicity, Dr Nathan Shamuyarira, who is the sole signatory to cheques and payments made by Jongwe Printing & Publishing Company, refused to shed light on the printing press deal. Neither would he comment on the PSF loan or the circumstances under which Jongwe Printers parted ways with its managing director.
“Ask Murerekwa. We wrote him a letter of dismissal and I cannot comment beyond that,” Shamuyarira said when asked what action the party was taking to rationalise the bungled deal.
Sources say one of the three managers hired by Murerekwa, a Mr Gundu, was contemplating resigning as well but it was not clear at the time whether the resignation is linked to the intricate scam that led to Murerekwa’s dismissal.
Last month Reserve Bank governor Gideon Gono revealed that several companies, which had borrowed money under the PSF facility, had not repaid their loans. Gono was reacting to criticism expressed by captains of industry at the recently ended CZI congress fingering RBZ of failing to provide foreign currency to commerce and industry.