PRESIDENT Robert Mugabe on Wednesday blocked the arrest of Higher and Tertiary Education minister Jonathan Moyo by Zimbabwe Anti-Corruption Commission (Zacc) officers who are investigating him in connection with fraud involving the Zimbabwe Manpower Development Fund (Zimdef), Zimbabwe Independent has established.
By Elias Mambo
A team of Zacc investigators led by chief investigations officer Alex Masiye, in the company of police, invaded the Zanu PF national headquarters in Harare seeking to arrest Moyo while he attended a politburo meeting chaired by Mugabe.
Sources say the team was holed up on the ground floor while waiting for the meeting to end in order to pounce on Moyo who has been evading them since they called him to their offices three weeks ago. Moyo is accused of benefitting from close to US$270 000 which was corruptly syphoned out of Zimdef by ministry and fund officials.
Zimdef, a State enterprise in the Ministry of Higher and Tertiary Education, Science and Technology Development, was created in terms of Section 47(1) of the Manpower Planning and Development Act Chapter 28:02 and Sub-section 2. The objective of the fund is to develop skilled manpower in the country.
Documents seen by the Independent summarising the investigations show that Moyo through his personal assistant allegedly used close to US$50 000 from the fund to purchase bicycles, which he distributed to his constituency as well as a US$24 000 loan which he has since repaid.
The investigations by Zacc uncovered that Moyo, his deputy Godfrey Gandawa, Fredrick Mandizvidza (Zimdef chief executive officer), who is currently out on bail and Shephard Honzeri (Moyo’s personal assistant) allegedly connived to prejudice Zimdef of thousands of US dollars.
“The report on allegations of fraud and criminal abuse of duty was received on the 25th of July 2016 through a whistleblower,” reads the summary of investigations.
“Allegations pointed to corrupt and fraudulent transactions involving the Ministry of Higher and Tertiary Education, Science and Technology, Zimdef and two companies namely Fuzzy Technologies (Pvt) Ltd and Wisebone Trading.”
The two companies are owned by Gandawa and “the deputy minister plays a major role in the procurement process and ensures that his companies get the contracts from the ministry without going to tender.”
Zacc accuses the three of converting the money to their own use, prejudicing Zimdef of close to US$270 000.
“The four accused persons acting in connivance and with criminal intent to defraud Zimdef transferred US$95 800 from Zimdef to Wisebone Trading purportedly to purchase 10×3 dimension printers meant for distribution to engineering departments of eight polytechnics and two industrial training colleges in the country,” the anti-corruption body alleges.
Zacc further alleges that of the US$95 800, a total of US$26 280 was used to purchase 241 bicycles which were distributed by Moyo to his Tsholotsho constituency.
In February this year, the Chronicle reported that Moyo “donated 10 motorcycles and 239 bicycles to traditional leaders in his constituency to ease communication challenges and enhance co-ordination of activities.”
According to Zacc, “on 28/12/15 US$19 030 was transferred from Gandawa’s company bank account to Ace Cycles for the purchase of bicycles. Another similar transfer of US$7 260 was made on 26/01/2016 for the purchase of additional bicycles.”
“The bicycles were for Prof Jonathan Moyo and he duly accepted them and distributed them in his constituency of Tsholotsho.
“The Money Laundering and Proceeds of Crime Act criminalises any person who acquires, uses, or possesses property knowing or suspecting at the time of receipt that such property was a proceed of crime,” reads the charge sheet.
Moyo is also accused of illegally acquiring a loan of US$24 000 from Zimdef, which has since been recovered. Sources said a local businessman (name supplied) paid US$16 000 while Moyo paid US$8 000 towards the loan repayment.
“Gandawa corruptly applied for the loan on behalf of Moyo and Mandizvidza authorised it well knowing that it falls outside the mandate of the fund,” Zacc alleges.
Prior to the dramatic swoop to arrest Moyo at Zanu PF headquarters, sources said officials from the Prosecutor-General’s office met Mugabe earlier this week, who “okayed” the arrest if there was evidence of state resources abuse.
The sources also said Moyo was called for questioning three weeks ago but refused to go to the Zacc offices.
Instead, he sought protection from Vice-President Phelekezela Mphoko, the government officials added.
“Mphoko assured him that he (the VP) would meet Mugabe over the issue,” said a senior government official.
However, on Wednesday Mugabe blocked Zacc from arresting Moyo who was attending the Zanu PF politburo meeting.
Sources said Moyo raised the Zacc issues after the politburo members had deliberated on all other matters to do with the December annual conference.
“It was Moyo who raised the issue of Zacc being used to target individuals based on factional lines,” the source said.
“He said Zacc was targeting him and has laid nine charges of fraud against him. He also questioned why Zacc targeted him,” a politburo member said.
“He said the money he is alleged to have siphoned went towards First Lady Grace Mugabe’s rallies and the National Youth League’s one-million march.”
The sources, who attended the meeting, said Vice-President Phelekezela Mphoko, Zanu PF youth leader Kudzai Chipanga and national political commissar Saviour Kasukuwere were quick to come to Moyo’s defence.
In a heated debate, Moyo said the arrest was part of a factional fight at Vice-President Emmerson Mnangagwa’s instigation.
“He accused Mnangagwa of sending Zacc to investigate him. He also gave a detailed presentation on his fallout with Mnangagwa, which dates back to the Tsholotsho declaration of 2004 as well as the Gukurahundi issues while claiming some politicians are after his life.”
Politburo sources said Mugabe then asked Home Affairs minister Ignatius Chombo and State Security minister Kembo Mohadi to speak to the police officers who had come to arrest Moyo.
“Zacc officers told the two security ministers why they wanted to arrest Moyo and they denied that they had been sent by Mnangagwa but said it was senior assistant commissioner Silence Pondo who had sent them because Moyo had been evading Zacc officials.
“Moyo failed to avail himself for questioning on Monday and Tuesday, resulting in the officers going to apprehend him at the politburo meeting,” the source said, adding: “On Monday, he said he was in a meeting with Mphoko and could not come, then on Tuesday he gave an excuse that he was attending cabinet.”
Mohadi and Chombo then reported back to the politburo, triggering heated exchanges with Mphoko and other G40 members calling for the dissolution of Zacc, accusing the state independent body of being tribal and factional in its approach.
This is not the first time that Zacc has been blocked by senior government officials from exercising their mandate.
In July, Mphoko ordered the release of Zimbabwe National Roads Administration (Zinara) acting chief executive officer Engineer Moses Juma and non-executive director Davison Norupiri, who were arrested on allegations by Zacc of defrauding the parastatal of US$1,3 million.
In a move which borders on abuse of office, a government source told the Zimbabwe Independent, Mphoko, “arrived in person at Avondale Police Station (in Harare) where he personally secured the immediate release of the incarcerated duo on the grounds that they were his boys”.
One politburo member said: “Mphoko lashed out at Zacc, saying it was a cancer that needed to be removed. He said the politburo should just disband it as it was targeting certain members of the party.”
However, section 235 of the constitution on the independence of commissions stipulates: “The independent commissions are independent and are not subject to the direction or control of anyone.
“The state and all institutions and agencies of government at every level, through legislative and other measures, must assist the independent commissions and must protect their independence, impartiality, integrity and effectiveness. No person may interfere with the functioning of the independent commissions.”
The independent commissions can only be removed through a tribunal.
The politburo then resolved to set up a committee, chaired by Jacob Mudenda, who is also Speaker of Parliament, to look into the Zacc allegations and see if Moyo had a case to answer.
Government sources say as of yesterday Mphoko was calling Zacc commissioners ordering them not to arrest Moyo to allow time for the committee to carry out its investigations.
While there are contrasting accounts about the outcome of the meeting with those aligned to Mnangagwa saying Moyo was literally shaken by the encounter and the G40 group stating that Mugabe took Zacc to task and stopped the arrest. The G40 group maintains that the politburo proposed that Zacc be disbanded and investigated.
“Mugabe said if there is a case then Zacc should use the right channel and involve police who have the arresting powers instead of ambushing him,” said a close Mnangagwa ally.
“Mugabe also ordered that a committee led by speaker of parliament Jacob Mudenda should further investigate charges levelled against Moyo.”
Moyo took to Twitter yesterday, alleging tribalism in state institutions, saying “No to tribal capture of state institution.”
“Factionalists, successionists and tribalists reckon they get away with corrupting and abusing institutions and due processes. Everyone knows who the thieving tribalists and murderers are. If you do not know them you are a fool or one of them. Down with tribalism,” Moyo tweeted.
Efforts to get a comment from Moyo were fruitless as he was not answering his mobile phone. A text message sent to him was not responded to but he wrote on his Twitter handle: “Journalists seeking my comments to justify their speculations are wasting their time. Let the architects of your fibs come to the party.”
Gandawa did not respond to questions sent to him on WhatsApp. He cut off a phone call when asked to comment on the allegations. The sent messages delivered but he did not respond.
In 2013, Zacc was also blocked from arresting the then Indigenisation minister Saviour Kasukuwere, Mines minister Obert Mpofu and transport minister Nicholas Goche over allegations of corruption.
Zacc investigators were stopped dead in their tracks from raiding and searching the three ministers’ offices by the High Court when they had obtained an unprocedural search warrant from the same court.
In the end, Zacc officials were put under sustained political pressure, ironically making the hunters the hunted as tables dramatically turned on them.
Allegations against the minister
A REPORT on allegations of fraud and criminal abuse of duty resulting in the embezzlement of close to US$270 000 was received on July 25 through a whistleblower. Allegations pointed to corrupt and fraudulent transactions involving the Higher Education Ministry, Zimdef, and two companies, namely Fuzzy Technologies (Pvt) Ltd and Wisebone Trading.
Investigators allege Moyo benefitted from the fraud. Below are excerpts of the case:
- Allegation one: US$95 800 syphoned out from Zimdef under pretext of purchasing of 10×3 dimension printers.
- Allegation two: US$19 030 is deposited into Ace Cycles account to purchase 173 gents bicycles. US$7 260 deposited to purchase additional 62 gents and four ladies bicycles. The bicycles were allegedly handed over to Moyo to distribute in Tsholotsho.
- Allegation three: US$24 000 applied for by Gandawa as a loan on behalf of Moyo.
Personal assistant Shephard Honzeri fraudulently signed fake delivery notes for 120 computer units purporting that the ministry had received the gadgets under the presidential computerisation programme, prejudicing it of US$83 525.