PRESIDENT Robert Mugabe’s lavish 92nd birthday party early this year was partly funded by money drawn from the Zimbabwe Manpower Development Fund (Zimdef), fresh evidence related to a sensational corruption scandal rocking the government has revealed.
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Mugabe, a fortnight ago blocked the arrest of Higher and Tertiary Education minister Jonathan Moyo by the Zimbabwe Anti-Corruption Commission (Zacc) on allegations that he siphoned over $450 000 from Zimdef.
Moyo argues that he used the money to fund Zanu PF programmes such as the so-called one-million-man march held in support of the president and bankrolled rallies by First Lady Grace Mugabe.
According to documents obtained last week, Mugabe was also a big beneficiary of the questionable use of public funds.
Moyo’s ministry facilitated the release of $173 000 towards the birthday party held in Masvingo after a request by the Zanu PF youth league.
Zanu PF youth league secretary for finance Tongai Kasukuwere wrote to Moyo on February 3 appealing for financial support.
“Honourable minister as the youth league is organising for the 21st February movement celebration on 27 February 2016 in Masvingo,” reads part of Kasukuwere’s letter.
“We need urgent support logistically in the form of computers, internet [to] provide coverage for video conferencing and live streaming access.
“We are also seeking for urgent support for fuel to mobilise the youths from provinces aimed for buses, food and flags.”
On February 4, according to the letters, Moyo wrote to his deputy Godfrey Gandawa advising him to respond positively to Kasukuwere’s request.
Gandawa is now being investigated alongside Moyo and other ministry officials for alleged corruption and Kasukuwere’s letter forms part of the evidence amassed by Zacc investigators.
“Please see how you can assist, perhaps not directly given the source and nature of the request,” Moyo wrote.
“Unfortunately, we cannot use Zicosu [Zimbabwe Congress of Students Union] given their negative politics these days.”
Zicosu is the tertiary students’ body that used to be funded through government departments before it was blacklisted for allegedly supporting Vice-President Emmerson Mnangagwa’s camp.
The money for Mugabe’s party was transferred from the Zimdef coffers through Gandawa’s company — Fuzzy Technologies — with $18 000 going towards fuel and logistics for all the provinces.
In May, Kasukuwere was back with a begging bowl, this time for the controversial one-million- man march.
“On behalf of Zanu PF youth league national executive members who were the organisers of the million-man march…I would like to thank you for the assistance we received towards this event which was successfully held in Harare,” the Zanu PF youth leader wrote.
“Once again, I would like to thank you for your generous support towards Zanu PF youth league over the years.
Kasukuwere had no kind words for Zacc investigators yesterday, accusing them of leaking documents related to the investigation on the alleged abuse of Zimdef funds.
“These people must just do their investigations in a proper manner and stop taking everything to the media,” he said.
“With these things, surely no one will come on board and help the party.
“I feel these guys are failing to understand their mandate and how they should do their things.
“We have written so many letters to various institutions and if things continue to go in this direction, it is pointless for us to fundraise when we know that we are exposing the party.
“The same people are beneficiaries by being [members of] Zanu PF and today they act as if they want to kill the party.
“Every investigation must have a certain degree of credibility and confidentiality but on this one, I think these guys are doing the wrong things.”
Besides the youth league, Zimdef funds were allegedly used to fund a war veterans’ meeting in Harare where Manicaland Provincial Affairs minister Mandi Chimene publicly told Mugabe to fire Mnangagwa.
Chimene accused the vice-president of plotting against Zimbabwe’s long-time ruler.
In a November 25 memo from Gandawa to Moyo, the deputy minister revealed that he authorised the release of over $95 000 from Zimdef to Wisebone Trading.
The relevant paperwork showed that the money would be used to buy printers for the ministry.
But in the memo, Gandawa reveals that he instead bought 65 computers for donation at a rally in Rushinga held by the First Lady.
He also gave women’s league secretary for finance Sara Mahoka $20 000 in cash as support for logistical organisation of the rally.
In another stunning revelation, $75 800 was used to buy a car for former Higher Education minister Olivia Muchena from Willowvale Mazda Motor Industries.
Between 2014 and 2015, Zimdef gave Zicosu over $75 954,06.
The money, according to documents, was meant for various activities which included the union’s Africa Day celebrations, an executive council meeting and allowances for Zicosu members that attended the 21st February movement celebrations.
Moyo has been accused of using Zimdef funds to bankroll projects in his Tsholotsho North constituency. The minister has admitted to buying bicycles for traditional leaders, saying he had used his discretion as a Zimdef trustee.
On October 5 2015, Tsholotsho rural district council CEO, Themba Moyo wrote to the minister’s personal assistant, Shepard Honzeri requesting a donation of 170 computers.
On December 23 2015, the CEO wrote another letter proposing that the number of computers be reduced in order to use some of the money to buy bicycles for traditional leaders.
Honzeri wrote a letter to Gandawa, who on the same day responded by referring the matter to the minister for guidance and approval.
After deliberations within the ministry, 238 bicycles were bought at $110 each and 50 computers that cost $480 each.
The paper trail indicates that 10 three-wheeler motor cycles valued at $27 550 were bought from a company called SKM Motors.
Zimdef used another $1 500 to register the bicycles, bought helmets for $300 and used $4 500 to host the handover functions.
The money spent on Tsholotsho, according to documents, was $84 140.
United Kingdom-based lawyer, Alex Magaisa said Zacc had bungled the case by holding a press conference last week before the matter was taken to court.
“What a farce! Zacc makes case at a press conference. Moyo responds at a graduation ceremony,” Magaisa tweeted.
“This isn’t how criminal cases are conducted.”
Last week, Zacc commissioner dished out bank statements to journalists in Harare, saying it was proof that Moyo and Gandawa had abused funds, which Magaisa said was a blunder.
“It would be good to see Nguni alongside his fellow commissioners. I don’t mind their clarification. I worry about the handling of it,” he added. “It’s all about politics, sadly!”
Nguni — while addressing a press conference in his own personal capacity — said no single cent from the alleged loot had gone to Zanu PF.