A HARARE magistrate has set November 19, 26 and 29 as trial dates for former Foreign Affairs minister Walter Mzembi, who is facing charges of fraud, criminal abuse of office and theft of trust property involving $1,8 million.
BY DESMOND CHINGARANDE
Mzembi, who is being charged along with Susanna Makombe Kuhudzayi and Aaron Mushoriwa, appeared before magistrate Rumbidzai Mugwagwa yesterday.
Allegations are that in 2011, when Zimbabwe and Zambia won the bid to host the 20th United Nations World Tourism Organisation (UNWTO) conference slated for August 2013, Mzembi’s ministry came up with various avenues to raise money for hosting the event.
It is alleged this led to the signing of a 24-month contract between Mushoriwa’s Professional Conference Organisers (PCO) and the Tourism ministry, commencing on May 1, 2012 and Mzembi was to supervise and give instructions to the contractors.
The State alleges Kuhudzayi and Mushoriwa formed a consultancy company, Conventions Africa, which was not registered. They were allegedly signatories to the PCO contract they entered into with the ministry.
Kuhudzayi and Mushoriwa then opened a bank account in the name of Conventions Africa with ZB Bank and made themselves signatories to the account.
It is the State’s case that using letters written on government letterheads and originated from Mzembis’s office, Mushoriwa and Kuhudzayi approached the corporate world seeking donations in cash and kind, purportedly towards the UNWTO General Assembly.
The corporate world allegedly responded believing that they were donating to the ministry towards the UNWTO conference and deposited money into Mushoriwa and Kuhudzayi’s unregistered company’s bank account.
It is alleged Mbada Diamonds donated about $1,6 million towards the UNWTO conference, of which $810 000 was transferred directly into Conventions Africa’s account.
Mushoriwa and Kuhudzayi, acting in connivance with Mzembi, allegedly withdrew $1,6 million from Conventions Africa’s account on various occasions.
It is alleged using the funds and donations received, Mzembi, Mushoriwa, Kuhudzai and Saungweme 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 alleged $1,6 million was stolen and only $261 386 was recovered.
Sebastian Mutizirwa appeared for the State.