Is ZACC backtracking on Chimombe, Mpofu?


Brenna Matendere

Harare—The Zimbabwe Anti-Corruption Commission (ZACC) seems to be backtracking on its plan to have Mike Chimombe and Moses Mpofu prosecuted for alleged multi-million fraud and tender manipulation.

Observers have already pointed out that the two cases on which the trio faces prosecution is politically charged as it would implicate sensitive offices that include the presidium, the Central Intelligence Organisation (CIO), the Office of the President and Cabinet (OPC), ZEC and its chairperson, Priscilla Chigumba as well as the Procurement Regulatory Authority of Zimbabwe (PRAZ).

The commission last week launched an investigation into alleged theft of trust property, accusing the duo of pocketing millions of dollars but failing to deliver on the presidential goat scheme for which they had been mysteriously awarded a tender.

They are also being accused of being accomplices in a US$40 million tender scandal that involved the inflating of prices for biometric voter materials meant for the Zimbabwe Electoral Commission (ZEC) for the 2023 general elections.

The ZACC chairperson, Michael Reza, last week told the media that they had managed to build a strong case against Chimombe and Mpofu, with the commission issuing a statement that ordered the two to report to the commission, or it would go hunting for them.

Following the statement, the duo’s lawyer, Tapson Dzvetero of Antonio and Dzvetero Legal Practitioners, wrote to ZACC informing it that Chimombe and Mpofu were out of the country and would report to ZACC upon their return.

On Monday, ZACC showed that it had lost its energy to pursue the cases against the two when they reported to the commission as promised by the lawyer.

Dzvetero announced that the anti-graft body did not lay any charges on his clients nor did it record warned and cautioned statements from the when they presented themselves before commission.

In an interview with NewsHub, Dzvetero said the two businessmen were allowed to go back home without any conditions.

“What I can confirm is that we went to ZACC and I presented my clients. At first, they said they had another case they were handling and told us to go and they would call us again when free. They then called us later in the day and we went back.

“We provided the information that the commission said it wanted in line with the adverts they had issued last week. I am not at liberty to disclose the information but we provided all the details that they wanted. No charges were laid on my clients and it does not seem that will happen,” he said.

Dzvetero said Chimombe and Mpofu were allowed to go home without any conditions or instructions to come back on any particular day.

“Before we left, I assured ZACC that my clients will be resident in the country and can come back at any time if the commission later felt there is additional information that they may want. There was no talk of arresting my clients and or instructions for them to appear in court,” he said.

According to a leaked ZACC memorandum dated 7 June 2024, Chimombe and Mpofu potentially face charges of contravening section 113 of the Criminal Law (Codification and Reform) Act chapter 9:23 relating to the theft of trust property, and section 8(2) of the Money Laundering and Proceeds of Crime Act.

The memo says investigations established that on 16 November 2021, the government of Zimbabwe represented by the Ministry of Lands, Agriculture, Fisheries, Water and Rural Development entered into a contract agreement with Blackdeck Livestock and Poultry Farming represented by Moses Mpofu valued at US$ 87 757 168 for the supply and delivery of 632 001 goats over a period of five years.

Investigations conducted established that there is no company registered in Zimbabwe as Blackdeck Livestock and Poultry Farming.

Rather, there is Blackdeck Private Limited registered on 12 February 2015 with two Directors being Moses Mpofu and Phinas Hazvineyi Kabisira.

Investigations further established that the two parties agreed that the Lands ministry would make an advance payment of 30% to Blackdeck Livestock and Poultry Farming towards the purchase of the goats.

Further investigations established that, on 21 April 2022 and 29 June 2022, the Ministry of Lands transferred ZWL$901 294 200.00 and ZWL$698 705 800.00 respectively into the Blackdeck CABS bank account number 1006126120 towards the supply and delivery of the goats.

The total amount transferred by the Ministry of Lands to Blackdeck to date is ZWL$1.6 billion or US$7 712 197 converted at the interbank rate.

ZACC also sought to obtain Blackdeck’s CABS bank statement in which the funds for the purchasing of the said goats were deposited by the Ministry of Lands.

An audio and documentary leaks in recent days indicate a fallout between Chimombe and Mpofu on one hand and ex-convict Wicknell Chivhayo on the other over a botched deal to supply election materials to ZEC.

The leaks and media reports have shown that there was possible manipulation of tendering and contract procedures that also involved the reported inflating of prices by close to 250 percent.

Paper trail based on communication between Mpofu and Chimombe on one hand and REN-Form, a South African supplier, alleges that the latter unilaterally changed the terms of the contract to supply the election materials.

The two allege that, under mysterious circumstances, REN-Form acted in cahoots with Chivayo—who is closely associated with President Emmerson Mnangagwa—to alter the contract, resulting in the latter receiving payments due to them.

They also alleged that REN-Form and Chivayo were involved in money laundering based on the payments made to them under deal with ZEC.

The trio of Chivayo, Chimombe and Mpofu—all ruling Zanu PF sympathisers—is seen to be closely linked to President Emmerson Mnangagwa.

Estimated at some US$40 million, the tender to supply the polling materials was given to Better Brands Security and REN-Form as the contract partners by ZEC. Mpofu and Chimombe were investors in the Better Brands outfit that is owned by a ruling Zanu PF lawmaker, Scott Sakupwanya.

In a recent press statement, ZACC said the correspondence by Mpofu and Chimombe to REN-Form and an audio reportedly produced by Chivayo “raise issues of money laundering and abuse of office” that warranted an investigation by the commission.

The ZACC added that it was also keen to interview Chimombe and Mpofu regarding possible abuse of the presidential goats scheme as revealed in an audio leak.

ZACC has in the past complained that political actors were influencing its work.

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