7 January 2018

Zimbabwe: Mzembi Corruption Charges Ridiculous - Sikhala

Photo: The Herald
Walter Mzembi.

Former Foreign Affairs minister is in legal trouble for donating government television sets to the Walter Magaya-led Prophetic Healing and Deliverance (PHD) ministry and Emmanuel Makandiwa's United Family International Church (UFIC) as well as Zion Christian Church (ZCC).

Defence lawyer, Job Sikhala, revealed the reasons for Mzembi's arrest after his client was released on $400 bail by Harare magistrate, Elisha Singano this Saturday.

Sikhala told reporters that he will apply for exception to the charge at next remand.

"The charges my client is facing are ridiculous. The charges are that he donated to UFIC, PHD and ZCC without treasury approval ... but you should note that at that particular time my client innovated a new concept of religious tourism; (which) he was trying to promote during his time in office.

"Inconsistences with his duties cannot be found out of such an action and we are going to make an application for exception on January 22," said Sikhala.

Mzembi is one of former President Robert Mugabe's ministers arrested so far as the anti-corruption dragnet closes in on members of Zanu PF's G40 faction.

He was picked up on Friday by Zimbabwe Anti-Corruption Commission (ZACC) officers on allegations of criminal abuse of office and fraud together with former Energy minister, Samuel Undenge.

Undenge also appeared before the same magistrate on Saturday and was released on $300 bail.

He is being represented by his lawyer Alex Muchadehama. Prosecutors did not oppose granting of bail to the pair.

According to the state, Mzembi donated 16 television sets to worth $800,000 to the churches without approval of the cabinet. He allegedly committed the offence in 2010 when he was Tourism and Hospitality minister.

Court heard that in a bid to introduce Fan Parks for the 2010 soccer World Cup, the ministry pushed for a motion to acquire LED Public Viewing Area (PVA) screens. Mzembi's ministry applied for and obtained funds from treasury to purchase 40 LED PVA screens.

It is alleged $2 million was deposited into Shangai Linso Digital Technology company's China bank account as payment for the televisions.

Mzembi then allegedly abused his office by donating 16 television screens to some churches without authority from treasury.

For his part, Undenge is accused of fraudulently awarding public relations firm Fruitful Communications a contract without going to tender, in the process prejudicing the State of $12,650 in 2016.

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