The Zimbabwe Anti-Corruption Commission (ZACC) was already investigating allegations that Higher and Tertiary Education, Science and Technology Development Minister Professor Jonathan Moyo and his deputy, Dr Godfrey Gandawa, siphoned US$430 000 from Zimdef through shelf companies Wisebone Trading and Fuzzy Technologies.
Dr Gandawa owns Fuzzy Technologies.
The fresh probe means ZACC is investigating potential prejudice to Zimdef of over US$2 million. Prof Moyo has, via social media, tacitly admitted that he diverted money from the Fund but claims the probe is political and tribal in nature — statements that large sections of the public have derided.
Contacted for comment on the earlier probe involving US$430 000 and the new one concerning US$1,5 million, Dr Gandawa disconnected his cellphone without answering any questions. On the latest allegations, investigators are interested in several Zimdef transactions authorised by Prof Moyo and/or Dr Gandawa.
Of particular interest is that on 24 April 2015, Zimdef spent US$22 745 for the Higher Education Ministry’s participation at the Zimbabwe International Trade Fair but the figure jumped to US$947 463,94 for ZITF 2016.
Information availed to our Harare Bureau shows that ZITF pavilions are let out through five-year leases with exhibitors paying a yearly rate of at least US$4 000.
Investigators say the ministry broke down its use of nearly US$1 million from Zimdef for this year’s ZITF thus: stand renovations — US$127 006; main activities, paid to AB Communications and Troika Design — US$113 850; preparations, paid to Fuzzy Technologies — US$185 840; preparations, paid to AB Communications — US$10 100; spaces for ZITF — US$28 876; and ZITF works for the stand — US$32 583,95.
According to information given to ZACC, AB Communications — owned by Information Communication Technology and Courier Services Minister Supa Mandiwanzira — was paid a total of US$482 149,78.
However, AB Communications says it only received US$12 000 for advertising. Further, Zimdef bought vehicles for the Higher Education Ministry valued at US$200 000 on 7 September, 2015. This was despite auditors’ recommendation against such expenditure. On 9 June, 2016, Zimdef forked out US$80 284,47 to buy a vehicle for Dr Gandawa.
Other questionable transactions are the payment of US$440 047,46 for Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics (Stem) adverts. Documents show some of the advertising payments went to named media houses. But investigators are concerned with payments whose destination is not stated in any document availed to ZACC.
These include a US$181 633,42 payment on 4 June, 2016 which is only referred to as “Stem initiative adverts”, US$121 153,61 for “Stem multimedia campaign” and US$38 485,10 for “Stem video”. Investigators want to know who those payments were made to and where the adverts appeared.
Another interesting transaction is one listed as Prof Moyo’s meeting with Vice-President Phelekezela Mphoko on 4 July 2016 which cost Zimdef US$2 985. Zimdef also paid US$3 230 for the funeral of the minister’s daughter on 5 November 2015.
This was despite Prof Moyo having already unprocedurally accessing a US$24 000 loan from Zimdef for the same purpose. Prof Moyo paid back the loan, but the action was allegedly in breach of Chapter 28:02 of the Manpower Planning and Development Act which makes no provision for extension of personal loans to the minister from Zimdef funds.
Before taking interest in the above transactions, ZACC had prepared a docket against Prof Moyo and Dr Gandawa on five charges of fraud as defined in Section 136 of Criminal Law (Codification and Reform) Act (Chapter 9:23), and three charges under the Money Laundering and Proceeds of Crime Act (Chapter 9:24).
ZACC is also investigating a separate case in which Prof Moyo and Dr Gandawa allegedly directed Zimdef to buy 100 000 litres of diesel worth US$118 500, fuel which investigators suspect was then sold on the black market.
Zimdef was established in terms of Section 23 of the Manpower Planning and Development Act 36 of 1984, now revised Manpower Planning and Development Act (Chapter 28:02) of 1996, to finance development of critical and highly skilled manpower through a one percent Training Levy paid by companies registered in Zimbabwe.
About 70 percent of revenue is supposed to be dedicated towards the fund’s main mandate, while 20 percent goes to administration and 10 percent to capital projects.
The fund pays wages to apprentices; tuition, accommodation and food for apprentices at tertiary institutions; and purchase of training equipment, training consumables and library books. The fund also has provision for development of infrastructure like libraries and workshops.
The alleged abuse of funds comes even as Zimdef, as reported by our sister publication The Herald, plans to retrench 60 of its 200 workers due to “lack of financial resources”. Zimdef reportedly collects about US$3,6 million per month and its wage bill is less than US$200 000.