LOCAL Government minister Ignatius Chombo and the National Social Security Authority (Nssa) have been fingered in a messy dispute over land in Gweru that has sucked in senior CIO and police officers.
The feud arises from a transaction in which Nssa bought disputed land in Gweru from a Portuguese businessman, Roger De Sa who has interests in a local company, DMC Holdings.
The case, in which Nssa purchased 650 hectares of land in Gweru in 2013 despite written representations by one Wilford Nyambo objecting to the transaction on the grounds that he is the real owner of the property, is currently before the High Court and has drawn in Kizito Gweshe, the director for counter-intelligence in the President’s Office, the Midlands governor (now Provincial Affairs minister) and an unnamed “big boss of the police”.
The governor at the material time was Jason Machaya.
Those implicated in the row by De Sa were fingered in a transcript played at the Gweru magistrates court in November last year during a trial in which Nyambo faced fraud charges relating to the sale of residential stands in Gweru.
The transcript carries alleged details of a conversation between De Sa and Nyambo who have been business partners in DMC for almost 30 years. DMC is the holding company and owner of Christmas Gift and three other companies. Gweshe suddenly appeared as a director of Christmas Gift in 2010, apparently without Nyambo’s knowledge and approval.
In the transcript, De Sa explains Gweshe’s involvement in Christmas Gift by telling Nyambo that he had in fact saved Christmas Gift’s land from compulsory acquisition by greedy senior government officials and other powerful individuals, including Chombo.
“Do you know who wanted to take that land huh?” De Sa asks Nyambo in the transcript. “It was the governor of Midlands, with the commissioner with the …eh… big boss of the police, another commissioner, the big one,” said De Sa. After being quizzed further, De Sa explains to Nyambo that “Chombo is the big one”.
“Chombo yes,” he says. “Chombo’s office was involved. There was no one to help me. They said the government can take the land under blah blah act. They were all in cahoots to steal the land from us so eventually I had to resort to the President’s Office then this guy (Gweshe) helped us sort these things out otherwise today we wouldn’t have anything.”
Gweshe admitted under cross examination at the High Court in Harare on Wednesday morning that he had made an initial approach to Nssa offering them the land in Gweru for US$16,4 million.
Nyambo’s former lawyer, Norman Bvekwa, wrote to Nssa in an attempt to stop the sale of the land on the grounds that his client was an interested party with shares in Christmas Gift and had not been involved in any of the negotiations for the proposed sale.
Nssa eventually paid US$7,4 million which Gweshe admitted to have started using to paying legal fees, surveyor’s fees and capital gains tax despite a Supreme Court order granted on February 14 this year barring the use of the funds.
During cross examination by Beatrice Mtetwa who represented Nyambo – who is now being accused along with Bvekwa of misrepresentations in their letter to Nssa — Gweshe admitted that he had no documents proving his directorship, nor did he ever inject any funds into Christmas Gift.
He however said that he was comfortable “with the verbal agreement with my friend and partner (De Sa) concerning my shareholding and I am not complaining”.
“There is no exact percentage and that is how we framed it (the agreement) and agreed,” said Gweshe, adding that “the reason is very simple. We are yet to agree on my contribution to the running expenses related to the transaction which in my view is just fair.”
Gweshe added in his evidence on Wednesday: “I have contributed time, my energy and travelling expenses. I have negotiated with corporates and I am even appearing in this court for the company – all of which surely your worship is not for free. I have not made any direct monetary contribution but I have earned my shares your worship.”
Nssa has a well-documented record of poor investment decisions — which have cost contributors millions of dollars while pensioners get as little as US$40 a month- spanning various sectors of the economy , including outlays to non-performing indigenous banks, struggling companies and bad real estate choices.