TOURISM minister Walter Mzembi is reportedly under investigation for allegedly abusing funds and cars bought for the hosting of the United Nations World Tourism Organisation (UNWTO) general assembly, co-hosted by Zimbabwe and Zambia in 2013.
Government sources said this week the investigation, apparently triggered by Zanu PF’s ongoing internal strife, follows claims Mzembi abused US$2,5 million donated to the Tourism ministry by Mbada Diamonds for the purchase of vehicles and equipment used during the event in Victoria Falls.
“An investigation was carried out by some members from the party and they claim Mzembi bought eight vehicles which he gave to close associates,” said a senior Zanu PF source.
“Mzembi allegedly took one car for himself, gave a lady only identified as Zodwa another, his nephew got one while two vehicles were given to ousted former vice-president Joice Mujuru’s faction.”
However, in an interview with the Zimbabwe Independent this week Mzembi refuted all allegations saying only six cars were bought and all can be accounted for.
“We bought six cars during the build up to the UNWTO and these were distributed as follows: I took one since I was heavily involved and had no off- road vehicle from government, one vehicle was given to Margaret Sangarwe, the permanent secretary in the Ministry of Tourism and Hospitality,” said Mzembi. “Aaron Mushoriwa and Susan Makombe, who were part of the trust that arranged the hosting of the event, were also given a vehicle each.”
Mzembi also said two trucks were repossessed by Tata after Mbada failed to complete the payments of the vehicles.
“This is a list of the cars that we bought and I challenge whoever thinks that I misused the funds to bring evidence because everything was approved by a board of trustees.”
“People do not have the correct information so they rush to conclude and even report a person to the police without concrete evidence,” said Mzembi adding: “What we are witnessing in the country is a situation where partisan politics is being dragged into government business, yet the two should operate separately.”
In the build up to the UNWTO summit, government formed a UNWTO Corporate Resources Mobilisation Trust (CRMT) to bolster shaky preparations for the conference which were hit by serious funding problems as Treasury failed to release US$6,5 million to host the event.
The objectives of the CRMT was to oversee the management of resources mobilised by consultants appointed by the minister for the purposes of resource mobilisation to assist the funding of preparations for and hosting of the summit. — Staff writer