Mzembi in $2.5m scandal

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As ZACC open investigations into financial impropriety
Herbert Zharare
The Zimbabwe Anti – Corruption Commission (ZACC) has opened investigations into suspected rampant abuse of money and vehicles bought for hosting the 2013 United Nations World Tourism Organisation (UNWTO) general assembly in a case that fingers former Tourism and Hospitality Industry Minister Walter Mzembi.

Zimbabwe and Zambia co-hosted the international tourism showcase in 2013 that was officially opened by former President Mugabe and his counterpart Michael Chilufiya Sata, the late President of Zambia.

Although dust was first raised on the matter in 2015, the matter was quickly swept under the carpet as it implicated senior officials in Government. A ZACC official who cannot be named for professional reasons, last week revealed some top officials in the ministry abused over $2,5 million donated by Mbada Diamond Company for

the purchase of vehicles and equipment used during the event held in Victoria Falls.

“There are a number of cases that we are working on. Right now we are ceased with the case of abuse of UNWTO funds. There are vehicles that were bought (worth millions of dollars) and were not accounted for,” said the official adding the net was closing in on the looters.

ZACC commissioner in charge of investigations, Goodson Nguni could not be reached for a comment on his mobile phone yesterday.

The information at hand shows that former minister Mzembi, allegedly took one car for himself, gave another one to a woman only identified as Zodwa, while his unidentified nephew got the third one.

Reports say two other vehicles were given to former Vice President Joice Mujuru who has since been fired from Government and is leading an opposition party.

Although Mr Mzembi could not be reached for a comment yesterday, back then he was quoted defending himself as saying:

“We bought six cars during the build up to the UNWTO and these were distributed as follows: I took one since I was heavily involved and had no off- road vehicle from Government, one vehicle was given to Margaret Sangarwe, the permanent secretary in the Ministry of Tourism and Hospitality,” said Mr Mzembi.

“Aaron Mushoriwa and Susan Makombe, who were part of the trust that arranged the hosting of the event, were also given a vehicle each.”

In the build up to the UNWTO summit, Government formed a UNWTO Corporate Resources Mobilisation Trust (CRMT) to bolster preparations for the conference, which faced serious funding problems as Treasury failed to release $6,5 million needed.

The objectives of the CRMT was to oversee the management of resources mobilised by consultants appointed by the minister for the purposes of resource mobilisation to assist the funding of preparations for and hosting of the summit.

President Emmerson Mnangagwa has adopted a zero tolerance approach on corruption and recently issued a three months’ grace period for all Zimbabweans who externalized money generated in the country, without questions being asked, to bring back the money after which the law would take its course to those who will not heed the call.

The grace period expires at the end of February and the President says Government is aware of the people who looted the country.

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