BY VENERANDA LANGA
SHEPHERD Tundiya, the man described as a con-artist by four legislators that appeared before the Parliamentary Privileges Committee last week facing allegations of soliciting for a $400 000 bribe from businessman James Goddard, has denied that he is a member of the Central Intelligence Organisation (CIO).
The four MPs, Temba Mliswa (Norton), Anele Ndebele (Magwegwe), Prince Dubeko Sibanda (Binga North) and Leonard Chikomba (Gokwe Kabuyuni), described Tundiya as a cunning person who masqueraded as a CIO operative and an Office of the President and Cabinet (OPC) officer to ensure that his company Avim got coal transporting contracts at Hwange Colliery Company Limited (HCCL).
Tundiya’s role in the bribery scam was that he arranged the meeting between Goddard and the MPs, masquerading as the person sent by President Emmerson Mnangagwa to sort out issues pertaining to the struggling HCCL.
During cross-examination by the committee chaired by Senator Chief Fortune Charumbira, assistant counsel to Parliament Elizabeth Hove asked Tundiya to explain if he indeed introduced himself to Goddard as a CIO agent or an officer of the OPC?
“I am not an officer of the OPC and I am also not a member of the CIO,” Tundiya responded.
“When HCCL was put under administration, I then saw accusations in newspapers which said I caused the firing of the HCCL board, stole some coal at Hwange and even that I was sent by Mnangagwa to sort out Hwange Colliery and that I am a CIO,” he said.
Tundiya claimed that newspapers were writing stuff about him without evidence, adding that he only knew Goddard through business ventures.
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“We held regular meetings at HCCL where the board said they were facing challenges in that their South African-based contractor wanted United States dollars or rands. During the discussions, I suggested to the Hwange board that they must engage Goddard because he had capacity to mine since he had the machinery and equipment,” Tundiya said.
Goddard was said to have charged $17 per tonne, while the other SA company was charging $23 per tonne.
Tundiya claimed that the purpose of the meeting that he then arranged with the four MPs was to assist Goddard with the HCCL contract.
“I facilitated the meeting. On the issue of the facilitation fee – Sibanda was seated in his car and I was discussing with Ndebele about our operations when Chikomba asked for payment. Goddard, then asked me what we were saying, and if they were saying they wanted something and that is when the $400 000 issue cropped up.
“Goddard said $400 000 was a lot and the discussion was now between Goddard and Chikomba and I am not sure who gave a paper to Chikomba to write his account number,” Tundiya said.
During cross-examination of the four MPs, it emerged that Tundiya owed Chikomba US$2 100 and could have been trying to swindle Goddard to settle his debt with Chikomba in local currency.