By Xolisani Ncube
First Lady Grace Mugabe, war veterans and Zanu PF youths were some of the beneficiaries of funds drawn from the Zimbabwe Manpower Development Fund (Zimdef) amid indications that President Robert Mugabe’s succession war influenced a controversial investigation into the alleged abuse of the money.
The shocking revelations follow failed attempts by the Zimbabwe Anti-Corruption Commission (Zacc) to arrest Higher Education minister Jonathan Moyo (pictured right) and his deputy Godfrey Gandawa over the alleged abuse of Zimdef funds.
Mugabe last week blocked Moyo’s arrest after a dramatic politburo meeting where Zacc was accused of fighting Vice-President Emmerson Mnangagwa’s wars.
Mnangagwa and the minister have repeatedly clashed over Mugabe’s succession and Zacc has become the latest battleground for the Zanu PF factions associated with the two gladiators.
According to confidential documents gleaned by The Standard, Mugabe has been informed that Zacc decided to pursue Moyo, Gandawa and Zimdef boss, Fredrick Mandizvidza after they allegedly refused to bribe Goodson Nguni, a Zacc commissioner.
Nguni is now at the centre of the fallout that gives a glimpse into how Zanu PF uses State institutions to fund its activities.
The documents that include a letter written to Moyo by Gandawa and copied to Mugabe, the deputy minister’s statement to Zacc on the Zimdef probe and transcripts of Whatsapp messages, shed light on the scandal that threatens to tear Zanu PF apart.
The documents show that there is a feeling in Zanu PF that a faction linked to Mnangagwa is using State institutions to sabotage programmes that are aimed at supporting Mugabe in the face of intensifying protests by civil society groups and the opposition.
Gandawa in his letter that was also copied to the Central Intelligence Organisation head, Happyton Bonyongwe, accuses Nguni of using Zacc to extort $12 000 from a local communication company owned by a senior government official so that it would not be probed for benefitting from the Zimdef funds.
“The same commissioner extorted $12 000 from [name withheld], a company run by a Cabinet minister, which company was involved in the political programmes supported by Zimdef, but which has not been investigated by Zacc despite its extensive involvement in the political programmes,” Gandawa wrote in the letter which now forms part of evidence being used by a Zanu PF team set up by Mugabe to probe the commission.
Nguni, according to Gandawa, allegedly extorted $6 000 from Civil Aviation Authority of Zimbabwe and got a 5 000m2 stand from a businessman (name supplied).
“I am even aware of how the Zacc stand at the agricultural show was funded and under what circumstances. I have undisputable evidence to this,” Gandawa stated.
Last week, Mugabe appointed a committee comprising of Home Affairs minister, Ignatius Chombo, Speaker of the National Assembly, Jacob Mudenda, Defence minister, Sydney Sekeramayi and Small to Medium Enterprises minister, Sithembiso Nyoni to look into the conduct of some Zacc commissioners and its top management.
The leaked letter claims that Nguni has been holding hostage Justice ministry officials–threatening them with unspecified action and in some cases abusing/ using names of senior party officials to get information he can use against Moyo and his deputy.
“I want to state here that so many people have come to me coercing me to sell you (Moyo) out and I have on many occasions refused.
“All these people use senior people’s names and I have evidence of this in audio recordings,” the deputy minister wrote.
“My refusal to be used in that regard has led to me persecution.
“Records will show that I never abused Zimdef funds. It is important to note that I am not scared of prosecution.”
According to the letter in which the deputy minister was seeking authority to sue Nguni and a Zacc investigator, for ‘persecuting him’.
Gandawa said his life was now under threat as the ‘factional inclined mafia and the commission, was harassing not only ministry officials, but even those employed at his private company–Fuzzy Technologies–the firm which was allegedly used to siphon over $300 000 from Zimdef.
“It is unfortunate that a crucial government arm like Zacc is used to settle personal and factional wars,” Gandawa wrote.
Nguni was unavailable to comment on the allegations as his phone went unreachable yesterday.
Zanu PF insiders said during last week’s heated politburo meeting Moyo was reduced to tears as Zacc investigators swooped on him.
Sources said the minister could not hold back his tears as he narrated what he described as ‘tribal inclined persecution and political harassment through the use of state institutions’ by a faction allegedly linked to Mnangagwa.
“It was an emotional moment, Moyo failed to hold himself as he felt certain senior party people were out to destroy him. He wept and only heartless people were not moved but the entire politburo felt for him,” a senior politburo member.
Sources said Moyo invoked the mysterious death of her daughter Zanele Moyo in South Africa October last year, saying his tormentors were up to no good and “really wanted to get him down”.
Sources said Moyo invoked Zanele’s name as he was explaining how Zimdef loaned him $24 000 towards the funeral–an amount he has since repaid.
This forced Mugabe to halt the arrest while a task team investigated Zacc commissioners.
Sources said Mugabe made the decision after a strong presentation by Vice President Phelekezela Mphoko, secretary for youth affairs, Kudzai Chipanga and political commissar Saviour Kasukuwere among others who demanded that the commission be disbanded–as it had carried its duties in a factional manner and was being manipulated.
A source said Moyo told the politburo that he was being persecuted because he funded the youth league’s one-million-man match as well as the women’s league.
The documents gleaned by The Standard indicate that part of the money under scrutiny was used to fund a war veteran ‘s meeting that saw Manicaland Provincial Affairs minister Mandi Chimene calling for the ouster of Mnangagwa on allegations that he was plotting to topple Mugabe.
According to a statement made by Gandawa to Zacc investigators, part of the funds allegedly abused was used to finance the infamous Chiweshe rally where Grace–the Zanu PF omen’s league boss denigrated Mnangagwa for his alleged factional “shenanigans”.
“As part of the skills development for the youth, we supported the youth mobiliSation programme leading to the million man march, the million ,an march itself and post the million man march,” read the statement recorded by Zacc investigators.
Documents indicate that the ministry was called in to fund party programmes after the opposition and other groups stepped up their campaign against Mugabe.
“We were later approached by the national political commissar Saviour Kasukuwere to liaise with the acting chair of the war veterans Cde Mandi Chimene, and this was done by my minister,” Gandawa told the investigators.
“On short notice, Cde Chimene wanted to coordinate and convene a meeting of war veterans to express solidarity with His Excellence the president following the treacherous communiqué issued by rogue war veterans,” the deputy minister told the investigators.
“We designed and facilitated through (media company named) campaign in all newspapers, TV and all radio stations and provided logistical support and busses for all provinces to ferry participates to the meeting.”
The other money was used to fund the party’s new membership cards which the ministry of ICT and Potraz were working on, the statement says.
“We have been using our science and technology facilities and budget to support this initiative,” part of the statement by Gandawa to Zacc reads.
According to the charges being levelled by the anti-graft commission, Moyo and Gandawa abused the public funds as they used a company owned by the deputy minister–Fuzzy Technologies to undertake all these projects–contravening the Public Finances Act.
But in the statement leaked by Zacc sources, Gandawa said it was not only his company that benefited from the Zimdef funded projects.
He said another communication firm owned by a senior government official was paid over $230 000 for the supply of computers to support the women’s league’s rallies.
“My company is registered by the State Procurement Board,” Ghandawa said.
“I also was at all times during the implementation (of the Zimdef funded project) alive to the sensitive nature of the work.
“As such, I deliberately and purposefully did not involve my staff at Fuzzy Technologies in the decision making, implementation and execution of the programmes given the high level is confidentiality and sensitivity.
“But I can say without fear of being contradicted that the work was done without abusing any resources or process.
“I have no doubt in my mind that the situation that has arisen is politically motivated into two different ways that emanate from one source.
“It’s a direct attack on the political programs that were supported and for reason that are so self-evident that they do not require any comment from me,” Gandawa statement reads.
To justify the use of public funds to bankroll Zanu PF activities, Gandawa, according to the documents said: “It is important to note that Zimdef provided pivotal assistances under its corporate, social responsibility through the discretion of its trustee”.
“The record will show that previous Zimdef trustee s used the same discretion to support similar corporate social responsibility through organisations such as Zimbabwe (Zimbabwe Congress of Students Union) which engaged in political programmes.
“Such social corporate responsibility support for ZICOSU from Zimdef was discontinued when the organisation started engaging in factionalism,” Gandawa told the Zacc commissioners.
Zanu PF sources said during last week’s politburo meeting, politburo member Joshua Malinga allegedly told the meeting that: “Why are we wasting our time instead of focusing on pursuing those who stole our $15 billion?”
Part of the money allegedly abused by Moyo was used used to procure bicycles for traditional leaders in Tsholotsho–Matabeleland North province.
Zimdef, a State enterprise in the Ministry of Higher and Tertiary Education, Science and Technology Development, was created in terms of Section 47(1) of the Manpower Planning and Development Act Chapter 28:02 and Sub-section 2. The objective of the fund is to develop skilled manpower in the country.
Sources also said Moyo was called for questioning three weeks ago by Zacc investigators but refused to go to their offices.
Instead, he sought protection from Mphoko, the government officials added.
According to insiders, a day after Mugabe halted the arrest, some investigators still went to Moyo’s office and his home looking for him but he was unavailable.
Although Moyo did not respond to questions and calls made to him on the matter, he used micro blogging, Twitter account to speak out his thoughts.
“So traditional leaders in Matabeleland are just “ordinary people” & empowering them & the region is fraud, corruption & abuse of office. So what on earth was Zimdef funding before the launch of the STEM initiative that has spent over $4m to fund 5,232 A-Level students in 2016?” Moyo wrote.
He added: “You can say what you want but I would rather be a Robin Hood than a cruel tribalist, murderer & United Nations identified cross border diamond thief!”
“While it’s ok for some to use Zinara funds to build tarred roads to their village farms, its fraud for others to get bicycles for chiefs,” Moyo wrote.
Mnangagwa was not available for comment.