HARARE – The case of five Zimbabwe National Road Administration (Zinara) executives accused of allegedly fraudulently transferring more than $2 million into bogus companies’ accounts in a shady loan repayment deal has taken a new twist after Zinara wrote a letter to the National Prosecuting Authority (NPA) clearing the group of any wrong-doing.
This also comes at a time the five — Simon Mudzingwa Taranhike, Shadreck Matengabadza, Stephen Matute, Givemore Tendai Kufa and Precious Murove, who are represented by Rekai Maposa — denied the allegations when their trial opened before High Court judge Emy Tsanga yesterday, claiming they were being persecuted for supporting President Emmerson Mnangagwa.
Allegations are that in 2011, Zinara was advanced a 10-year loan facility of $206 million by the Development Bank of Southern Africa (DBSA) for the construction and rehabilitation of the 823km-long Plumtree-Mutare Highway.
NMB Bank was to facilitate the loan repayment.
The State alleges that due to foreign currency challenges, remittances to NMB Bank were being made in bond notes, leaving the bank with the task of sourcing hard currency on behalf of DBSA.
According to court papers, from May 3, to 23, 2017, the five men, acting in connivance and without authority from Zinara, allegedly sourced foreign currency from the parallel market through Grayriver (Private) Limited directors, after paying them a total of $2,94 million on the pretext that the payment was a reimbursement to DBSA on behalf of Zinara’s part payment of loan obligation with DBSA.
The offence came to light after CBZ Bank security department received an anonymous call that Grayriver, which had received $300 000, was a fraudulent company, used to syphon money from Zinara.
However, during trial yesterday, Maposa produced a letter dated January 4, 2018, written to the NPA referenced: Withdrawal of Charges Against Zinara Employees, in which the organisation said it had no case against its workers.
According to the letter, Zinara distanced itself from the case, claiming it was not the complainant in the matter, as the facts related to Infralink (Private) Limited. According to the letter these are two separate entities.
In the letter, no wrong was committed, adding that it would be a dereliction of duty if the matters were allowed to be prosecuted.
In their defence, the five claimed their problems were being instigated by Infralink (Private) Limited chief executive officer Nancy Masiiwa and Albert Mugabe. “All the accused persons will submit that this was a project by Albert, Masiiwa his cabal and other state witnesses to exterminate the accused persons on the basis that they were believed to be aligned to serve the interest of the current President of Zimbabwe and as such they were labelled as team Lacoste and hence they were supposed to be exterminated for good.
“It was actually a conspiracy to wipe the accused who could not give in to their demands to embezzle public funds, hence these charges. Albert indicated to them that he had instructions from the Mugabe family and would be in for it, for failure to comply with instructions, of evading what the Infralink (Private) Limited board had resolved,” Maposa said.
She said the loan was between Infralink and DBSA and that Infralink had some of its monies in Zinara’s coffers, adding that whatever they did was above board and had the blessing of the Zinara chief executive officer.
Prosecutor Chris Mutangadura yesterday called the first State witness, Presidential Affairs permanent secretary Judith Kateera who told the court she was a former Permanent Secretary with the Transport ministry.
Kateera said she knew Zinara had a loan agreement with DBSA, which had accrued to $21 million by June, 2017, after attracting a 200 percent over the initial six percent interest.