BY CHARLES LAITON
THE trial of former Minerals Marketing Corporation of Zimbabwe (MMCZ) board chairperson, Francis Gudyanga on charges of causing the parastatal to lose over $1,6 million to an Israeli-linked agricultural firm, Pedstock (Pvt) Ltd, commenced in Harare yesterday with the accused dragging former President Robert Mugabe into the matter.
Gudyanga pleaded not guilty to the offence when he appeared before magistrate Bianca Makwande, saying the payment to Pedstock was above board as it had been approved by Mugabe and the then Mines minister Walter
Pedstock (Pvt) Ltd is a subsidiary of an Israeli firm, Nikuv International Projects Ltd, a company that made headlines for allegedly manipulating the 2013 election results in favour of Mugabe.
In his defence, Gudyanga, who is also former Mines ministry secretary, said during his tenure as MMCZ chairman, the ministry partnered with the Home Affairs ministry in a bid to curb the rampant smuggling of
minerals out of the country.
Gudyanga said the Home Affairs ministry then introduced a company called Glammer to his ministry which was later tasked to investigate smuggling cartels. He said he had authority at law to authorise payments as it
was in the best interests of the country.
“Glammer and government had an agreement which was endorsed by the Zimbabwe Republic Police and secretary in the Home Affairs ministry as progress was to be reviewed from time to time. Payment made to Glammer was meant to be confidential so as not to disclose the nature of the confidential services,” he said through his lawyers.
“The accused person (Gudyanga) fully briefed then MMCZ acting general manager Richard Chingodza about why Glammer was being paid through Pedstock and he instructed the bank to make the payment.”
Gudyanga, however, did not disclose to the court why Glammer was paid through a third party.
“If Chingodza felt that the payments authorised by MMCZ board chair were improper, he could have approached the Office of the President and Cabinet as provided for in the MMCZ Act. He chose not to do so from
November 2014 to June 2016 when he blew the whistle,” he said adding that: “the RBZ was aware of these confidential services and authorised payment for the services to their foreign account.”
Gudyanga further said in 2016, the Auditor-General Mildred Chiri went through the alleged fraud case and exonerated him of abuse of funds, adding the allegations levelled against him were thus baseless and highly