Zimbabwe Republic Police law and order officers interviewed deputy Higher Education minister Godfrey Gandawa last month as part of an investigation into last year’s break-in at the ministry’s office where several confidential documents reportedly went missing.
By Bernard Mpofu
This came after his boss Jonathan Moyo complained to President Robert Mugabe and other ministers over the lax security at his office, prompting police Commissioner-General Augustine Chihuri to launch an investigation into the unlawful entry.
Moyo has suggested to the National Assembly that the Zimbabwe Anti-Corruption Commission (Zacc) probably broke into his office and unlawfully seized documents, an insinuation they denied.
It is understood that following Moyo’s complaint, Mugabe then ordered an investigation into the break-in after suggestions that either Zacc or its agents were behind the incident.
A probe into the break-in follows a cabinet meeting held last year where Moyo reportedly accused the state-run Sunday Mail of publishing confidential documents that disappeared after intruders broke into his government office and stole computers and confidential documents.
Sources said during the meeting in December, after Defence minister Sydney Sekeramayi had presented a report on security, Moyo raised concern over lax security at government offices.
Moyo, sources said, cited a Sunday Mail article alleging that Zacc had gathered more incriminating evidence against Moyo.
Moyo is accused of abusing nearly US$400 000 of state funds administered by the Zimbabwe Manpower Development Fund (Zimdef).
Moyo and Gandawa were last year arrested for allegedly siphoning Zimdef funds through private companies Wisebone Trading and Fuzzy Technologies.
Gandawa confirmed that police had interviewed him over the matter.
“I can confirm that the officers from law and order interviewed me. I cannot divulge the details of what they wanted since the matter is under investigation,” Gandawa said in a written response to questions sent by this newspaper.
Contacted for comment on the investigation, police spokesperson Charity Charamba referred all questions to national spokesperson, Paul Nyathi, who said he was engaged in a meeting.
Last August, nine offices at the Ministry of Higher and Tertiary Education, Science and Development were broken into and ransacked. Official documents and laptops belonging to directors were reportedly stolen.
Moyo, speaking in parliament recently, all but accused Zacc of unlawfully accessing confidential documents from his ministry.
“How do they stumble on the ministry’s work? These documents that they claim to have stumbled on the same or among them are documents that went missing from the ministry when it was broken into on the 6th and 7th of August last year,” Moyo told lawmakers.
“These documents were not lawfully taken from the ministry and now they think they are clever to say we have stumbled on them. Then we hear people boasting that they stumbled on documents. You do not take documents by breaking into offices; that is unlawful. You use warrants.”
Investigators that were also quoted in the Sunday Mail story also said they believed that Gandawa moved US$16 000 from his company and personal bank accounts to a Harare firm. In its story published on December 18, the weekly reported that Zacc was investigating a new case allegedly linking Moyo and other government officials to “suspicious” transactions involving over US$6,4 million.
The transactions, according to investigators cited in the article, include payments made from Zimdef between 2014 and 2016.
Following the December cabinet meeting, Moyo wrote to police chief Augustine Chihuri complaining how the matter had been handled and also advising him on the cabinet resolution.
“On Tuesday 20 December 2016 cabinet directed that I bring to your attention suspected criminal use by the Sunday Mail of 18 December 2016, government documents stolen from our ministry’s office . . . It turns out that some of the examples of transactions cited in the Sunday Mail story that the documents which the paper claims to have seen and which Zacc is alleged to have stumbled on leading to the start of a new investigation, are among the documents that were stolen from the ministry when its offices were broken into on 6/7 August 2016,” Moyo wrote in a letter dated December 23 that was also copied to Home Affairs minister Igantius Chombo and senior officials in the Ministry of Higher Education.
“This revelation is the reason for this complaint which is being brought to your attention on the directive of cabinet. May I also use the opportunity to report two other incidents that the ministry believes point to the criminal correspondence between some Zacc officials and other third parties in a manner similar to Zacc’s unlawful engagement with the Sunday Mail.
“In one case last September, protected and confidential government documents were legally given by Zacc to a person not authorised to receive documents. The ministry has evidence of this and we believe a crime was committed. In another case, we have since learnt that following my report to cabinet on 20 December 2016 about Sunday Mail’s use of stolen documents obtained through Zacc, the chief secretary to the cabinet, Misheck Sibanda, contacted Zacc and directed them to withdraw from the investigation Verify Engineering, whose transactions are specifically mentioned in the Sunday Mail. The ministry is the view that the directive was illegal and thus warrants investigation.”