BY DESMOND CHINGARANDE
Former Tourism minister Walter Mzembi’s alleged accomplices Susanna Makombe Kuhudzayi and Aaron Mushoriwa, who are accused of theft of trust property amounting to $1,8 million, have filed applications for refusal of further remand after the State failed to commence the trial.
Kuhudzayi and Mushoriwa had been religiously coming to court, but the trial could not kick off in the absence of Mzembi, who has a warrant of arrest.
The State had indicated that they could separate the dockets for the purpose of trial because of Mzembi’s absence, but later backtracked, saying it was processing papers for the extradition of the former minister from South Africa.
However, the application for removal from remand could not be challenged as the prosecutor Brian Vito failed to appear in court and the matter was moved to May 13 for a possible response to the application.
Magistrate Hosea Mujaya presided over the case.
Allegations are that in 2011, when Zimbabwe and Zambia won the bid to host 20th United Nations World Tourism Organisation (UNWTO) conference in August 2013, Mzembi’s ministry came up with various avenues of raising the money for hosting of the event.
This then 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 avers that 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 Tourism ministry.
Kuhudzayi and Mushoriwa then reportedly 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 that bore the Government of Zimbabwe letterheads and originating 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 and deposited money into Mushoriwa and Kuhudzayi’s company account.
It is further said Mbada Diamonds donated about $1,6 million towards the UNWTO conference, of which $810 000 was transferred directly into Conventions Africa’s account.
The prosecution alleges that Mushoriwa and Kuhudzayi connived with Mzembi and withdrew $1,6 million from Conventions Africa’s account on various occasions.
Using the funds and donations received, Mzembi, Mushoriwa and Kuhudzayi bought three Ford Ranger double-cab vehicles from Croco Motors and received another Tata Xenon double-cab vehicle from Mimosa Mines, the State further averred.
At the end of the UNWTO conference, the accused reportedly shared the vehicles among themselves and Kuhudzayi allegedly sold his vehicle to an unsuspecting third party.
The State says only $261 386 was recovered.