‘Anti-graft officers were offered stands’

Bernard Mpofu

A REAL estate company, Assetfin, has claimed in the High Court that some Anti-Corruption Commission (ACC) officers were offered residential stands to block a criminal probe against former ZBC finance director Oniyas Gumbo after he allegedly attempted to seize the company’s directorship.

 

In a damning answering affidavit filed with the High Court on Wednesday, Assetfin director Paul Chidawanyika alleged that the ACC had “conveniently, failed, refused or neglected to investigate and prosecute complaints against Gumbo”.

 

In November last year, Assetfin approached the High Court seeking an order to compel the ACC to investigate Gumbo. The firm cited the commission’s chief executive officer Ngonidzashe Gumbo, general manager Sukai Tongogara and senior official Charles Charuma as respondents. The respondents were accused of complicity in failing to probe allegations against the former ZBC boss, which included forgery of vital company documents.

Gumbo, currently with 50% shareholding in Assetfin, according to court papers, is fighting to oust Chidawnyika and Antony Parehwa –– directors linked to Unitime Investments (Pvt) Ltd, a 50% shareholder of the company.

In response to the application, the ACC represented by commissioner Casper Khumalo denied declining to probe Gumbo, adding that the commission had received accusations and counter-accusations from both the former ZBC boss and Unitime directors. In supporting affidavits, Khumalo, Ngonidzashe Gumbo, Tongogara and Charuma denied being related or having links with Gumbo.

Khumalo said Gumbo had also accused Chidawanyika and Parehwa of committing criminal offences, which the ACC was investigating.

“The ACC has not been biased in the investigation of the matter but has followed the trail of facts established by the investigation,” reads Khumalo’s notice of opposition.  “The issue of shareholding is a matter that is still under investigation.

“It is vehemently denied that share certificates, transfers and any other documents relating to shareholding were supplied to the commission as alleged by the applicant. The commission has been requesting for the said documents and to date, nothing has been provided.”

But in his answering affidavit this week, Chidawanyika was adamant that the ACC was taking sides with Gumbo.

“We believe the reason for the silence and the delays is to shield Oniyas Gumbo from criminal prosecution and highly possible conviction,” reads Chidawanyika’s answering affidavit. “So the respondents are actually protecting Oniyas Gumbo at the expense of justice. Instead of investigating Oniyas Gumbo, the officers of Anti-Corruption Commission are being offered residential stands by Oniyas Gumbo.”

Chidawanyika attached an annexure showing that an officer of the ACC was a beneficiary of medium density housing scheme at Caledonia farm in Harare run by the ZimTrust Housing Finance –– a company allegedly owned by Gumbo.

 

“It should be noted that Gumbo’s reports were counter reports made to dilute the initial reports made against him. Shockingly his reports have now received more attention,” Chidawanyika averred. “While Gumbo’s complaints are being prosecuted fervently, our complaints remain under the so called investigation. This surprises us because there are actually no investigations that need to be carried out. All information has been furnished to the respondents and is firmly in their hands. There is therefore no doubt that respondents have openly shown bias and favouritism in the handling of the dispute.”

During the ownership wrangle, the deputy registrar of companies, Willie Mushayi, was arrested on allegation of showing favour to Chidawanyika and Parehwa after he invalidated a forged company registration form purporting that Gumbo was the sole shareholder. Mushayi was acquitted by a Harare magistrate last month.

“Mushayi has uncovered a second title deed in favour of Mr Gumbo’s company namely Release Power Investments (Pvt) Ltd which was corruptly issued resulting in one property having two current title deeds as the same property had already been duly transferred to Unitime Investments (Pvt) Ltd,” Chidawanyika averred.

“The applicant is of the view that if the court does not intervene our complaints against Gumbo will go unchecked and unpunished. This has the effect of taking away from us the right to be protected by the law,” Chidawanyika said.

He also dismissed Gumbo’s charges alleging that Parehwa had stolen eight million bricks while he was still working for Shopex.

“Oniyas Gumbo’s company called Shopex sold bricks and received payment from Antony Parehwa’s’s company called Watermount Estates,” he said. “As a matter of fact it is Oniyas Gumbo who is under investigation for fraud on such bricks under Case No CR1205/08/10.”