BY XOLISANI NCUBE
A coterie of businessmen linked to Zanu PF allegedly imported over 100 cars duty free under the pretext that they were meant for President Emmerson Mnangagwa’s office in a case that could prove to be a big test to the government’s resolve to fight corruption.
According to impeccable sources, the alleged scam is already being investigated by the Zimbabwe Anti-Corruption Commission (Zacc).
Zanu PF MP for Hwedza South Tinomudaishe Machakaire was last week summoned by Zacc in connection with the case, insiders revealed.
Former director of state residences Douglas Tapfuma, who last week was accused of importing 82 vehicles using the same modus operandi has been linked to the scandal.
Tapfuma is in remand prison awaiting trial on charges of abuse of office.
Some of the cars imported by the businessmen were allegedly donated to Zanu PF while others were sold.
“When he was asked by investigators as to who helped him import the vehicles and why he did not pay tax, Machakaire claimed that the vehicles were a donation to the president,” he said.
“But some of the vehicles were later donated to Zanu PF and some were sold.”
Zacc investigators are also seeking to establish if the businessmen that include one of Mnangagwa’s advisors Kuda Tagwirei did not use the same modus operandi to import luxury cars for their personal use.
Machakaire confirmed that he had been summoned by Zacc but refused to disclose the reasons for the interrogation.
“If you are asking about the vehicles, I donated them to the party,” he said. “That is all I can say. I am not a criminal but a youthful Zanu PF member with businesses.”
Zac sources, however, revealed that at least 10 vehicles that were being kept at the premises of a Harare car dealer had been seized.
They said the businessman claimed the vehicles were being kept at a bonded warehouse while money to pay duty was being raised.
“Zanu PF secretary for finance Cde (Patrick) Chinamasa has been making frantic efforts to pay duty for the vehicles so that they don’t form part of the investigations,” said a Zacc source.
“The issue is that these guys imported top of the range vehicles, latest SUVS, which they are driving while some were sold and they did not pay duty.
“They used letters from the Office of the President and Cabinet to evade tax. Some of the vehicles have since been impounded.
“They were found at various car dealers and when asked, the suspects claimed that they were bonded and duty would be paid.”
Zanu PF spokesperson Simbo Khaya Moyo referred questions to Chinamasa and the party’s secretary for transport.
“Talk to Cde Chinamasa or Cde July Moyo, they can help,” he said.
Chinamasa did not pick calls while Moyo was unreachable.
Zacc chairperson Loice Matanda-Moyo could neither confirm nor deny the investigations.
“The problem that we have is that you media people are always ahead of us, it is not good,” she said.
“You make our work so difficult. Please don’t rush us.
“When we are ready to inform the nation on anyone whom we are investigating, we shall do so at the appropriate time. Please give us space and time to do our work.”
Last year, senior Zanu PF officials —mostly ex-cabinet ministers now fully based at party headquarters — took delivery of top of the range vehicles and at the time, the party claimed that the vehicles were donated by well-wishers.