Former Tourism minister Walter Mzembi’s alleged accomplice Susanna Makombe Kuhudzayi, who was recently reported to be on the run over theft of trust property amounting to $1,8 million, showed up at the Harare Magistrates’ Court yesterday where she was granted $300 bail and remanded to March 8.
BY DESMOND CHINGARANDE
Allegations are that sometime in 2011, when Zimbabwe and Zambia won the bid to co-host 20th United Nations World Tourism Organisation (UNWTO) conference in August 2013, Mzembi’s ministry came up with various avenues to fundraise for the global event.
It is alleged this led to the signing of a 24-month contract between Aaron Mushoriwa’s Professional Conference Organisers (PCO) and the Tourism ministry commencing on May 1, 2012 and Mzembi’s duty was to supervise the contractors.
The State alleges Kuhudzayi and Mushoriwa formed a consultancy company, Conventions Africa, which was not registered. They allegedly appointed themselves sole signatories to the PCO contract signed with the Tourism ministry.
Kuhudzayi and Mushoriwa then opened a bank account in the name of Conventions Africa. It is the State’s case that using letters written on government letterheads and originated from Mzembi’s office, Mushoriwa and Kuhudzayi approached the corporate world, seeking donations in cash and kind, purportedly towards the UNWTO General Assembly.
Several companies allegedly deposited money into Mushoriwa and Kuhudzayi’s unregistered company, believing they were donating to the Tourism ministry towards the UNWTO conference.
One of the firms, Mbada Diamonds, donated about $1,6 million of which $810 000 was transferred directly into Conventions Africa’s account.
Mushoriwa and Kuhudzayi, allegedly acting in connivance with Mzembi, withdrew $1,6 million from Conventions Africa’s account on various occasions.
Later on, Mzembi, Mushoriwa, Kuhudzai and former Tourism secretary Margaret Sangarwe bought three Ford Ranger double cab vehicles from Croco Motors and received another Tata Xenon double cab vehicle from Mimosa Mines.
At the end of the UNWTO conference, the accused allegedly shared the vehicles among themselves and Kuhudzayi allegedly sold his vehicle to an unsuspecting third party.
The State alleges that of the stolen $1,6 million, only $261 386 was recovered.
Sebastian Mutizirwa appeared for the State.