Former President Robert Mugabe’s family has been linked to the alleged plunder of resources at the National Social Security Authority (NSSA) when their nephew, Patrick Zhuwao, was Public Service, Labour and Social Welfare minister.
By Everson Mushava
Zimbabwe Anti-Corruption Commission (Zacc) investigations boss Goodson Nguni yesterday told journalists in Harare that several illicit deals that creamed off NSSA coffers were ordered by Zhuwao during his short stint as Labour minister before his uncle was ousted following a military intervention last
Nguni said Zhuwao ordered fired NSSA board chair Robin Vela to fund projects linked to the former First Family’s relatives and even approached the latter long before his appointment to the ministry to seek an agreement to fund Grace Mugabe’spolitical activities.
“There is a lot of public interest in what has been going on at NSSA, and a lot of commentators have started writing stories about what they think has been happening at NSSA,” Nguni said.
“We think in the interest of an anti-corruption strategy that we have worked on here, we must let the nation know what exactly is going on at NSSA.
“Former Public Service minister, Honourable Patrick Zhuwao, sometime in 2017, asked NSSA to release money for national housing projects that had the potential of fleecing NSSA of millions of dollars.”
He added: “Circumstances are that, upon his appointment as minister, Honourable Zhuwao through the NSSA board ordered the authority to avail $78 million for national housing projects.
“Of that total, $16 million was paid to a private company without going to tender. The money was for the construction of 600 housing units on a 24-hectare piece of plot in Dzivarasekwa, Harare. The cost of the building materials for the construction of these housing units was $4,57 million with the remainder, $12 million being labour costs.
“The land in question was sold by the Local Government ministry in September 2015 and the asking price was $334 800. The offer was given to a company called Drepmesh Construction, whose directors were Junior Shuvai Gumbochuma and a Mr Katurutsa.”
He said the two did not pay for the required $1,6 million performance bond to the National Building Society (NBS) so that the funds could be released.
“The private company paid $2,2 million to Mrs Gumbochuma for the purchase of the land, whose purchase price from the ministry in August when Hon Zhuwao was now the Labour minister was $410 000,” he said.
Nguni said the transaction was approved without the relevant certificates of compliance from the Harare City Council or Surveyor-General regarding designs, water reticulation systems and subdivision permits.
The private developer, Nguni said, was supposed to submit the housing units to NBS upon completion, but that did not happen.
He added that Zhuwao also ordered NSSA to release $18 million to a project in Caledonia, fronted by a company called Housing Co-operation of Africa owned by Adam Molai, who is the son-in-law to the Mugabes.
He said the land was also purchased by NBS on behalf of the developer.
“The third project was in Mutare. It was given to a company called Globben Investments. The owners of the company had never built houses before and without going to tender, they were advanced $11 million.
“Now with the Mutare project, the bricks were to be supplied by a man called Robert Zhuwao. A sum of $2 million was advanced to him to supply two million bricks. You know who Robert Zhuwao is? He is minister Zhuwao’s younger brother.
“He has not supplied the two million bricks, but only 200 000 to date. NBS has not sued for the money they have paid to a company called Bottlelin Investments, which is owned by Robert Zhuwao.”
He added: “What is very intriguing is that the NBS is not in the business of buying land from private people and then signing contracts with these private people to build houses for them. This matter should have gone to tender. There is also an amount of $2,2 million paid by the NBS to a company called Premierlink Services.”
Nguni said the company had no history in the construction industry and neither did it even have an office and when asked why they paid the money, NBS claimed it released the money so that the company could hold on to it and buy anything that it required for the project.
Nguni also claimed that the Local Government ministry approved the Dzivarasekwa lease not to Gumbochuma, but Drepmesh, but in October 2017, Zhuwao ordered some senior officers to write a letter that the land had been given to Gumbochuma so that she could use it to negotiate with other private companies.
He said the $78 million Zhuwao ordered to be released without a NSSA board resolution and the remaining $15 million was causing a lot of problems for the building society.