Chimombe, Mpofu in US$40 million goat scandal

21 Jun, 2024 - 07:06 0 Views
Chimombe, Mpofu in US$40 million goat scandal Mike Chimombe (right) and Moses Mpofu

Harare Bureau 

The Zimbabwe Anti-Corruption Commission (ZACC) has launched investigations into allegations of abuse of the US$40 million Presidential Goat Scheme by businessmen, Mike Chimombe and Moses Mpofu.

This comes as Speaker of the National Assembly, Advocate Jacob Mudenda, told the National Assembly that they will not have a parallel investigation into the case, but will allow ZACC to do its work, in line with the desire to observe the doctrine of separation of powers provided by the Constitution of Zimbabwe.

This was after Marondera Central MP, Mr Caston Matewu had risen to request that Parliament’s Portfolio Committee on Public Accounts be directed to investigate the duo by inviting the Treasury to understand what happened regarding the scheme.

In an interview yesterday, ZACC spokesperson, Commissioner Thandiwe Malobane said they were keen to interview Chimombe and Mpofu, who are connected to a company known as Blackdeck that was contracted by the Government.

“We received communication from Mr Mpofu and Mr Chimombe’s lawyers advising the commission that the two are currently out of the country. The lawyers made a commitment that once their clients are available, they will bring them through for interviews.

“We have seen the document circulating on social media and I cannot confirm social media content. However, as indicated in our statement released on Sunday, the commission is keen to interview the two pertaining the Presidential Goat Scheme,” she said.

Although Comm Malobane could not provide more details, our Harare Bureau heard that the two are likely to be charged with violating the Money Laundering and Proceeds of Crime Act or theft of trust property, as defined under the Criminal Law (Codification and Reform) Act.

It is alleged that the accused persons were paid US$40 million by Treasury  to supply and deliver goats meant to support underprivileged households across the country, under the Presidential Goat Scheme.

It is further alleged that after the accused persons received the said funds from Treasury, they did not deliver the goats as agreed, but they went on and converted the funds to their own use, buying luxurious houses and cars. 

As part of its investigations, ZACC requested the Ministry of Finance Economic Development and Investment Promotion to furnish it with details surrounding the case, such as the total amount of money released by Treasury towards the funding of the Presidential Goat Scheme and the account details where the funds were deposited. 

The anti-graft body also requested the Ministry of Lands, Agriculture, Fisheries, Water and Rural Development to provide procurement records, and proof of payment it made to Blackdeck towards the purchase of the goats.

It also requested a reconciliation of the expenditures for all funds received by the Ministry of Lands from the Ministry of Finance towards the purchasing of the goats, as well as the total number of goats delivered to the Ministry of Lands by Blackdeck.

Other Government institutions that were engaged include the Reserve Bank of Zimbabwe’s Financial Intelligence Unit, the Registrar of Companies and the Magistrate Courts, where a search and seizure warrant was granted.

It emerged that on November 16, 2021, the Government of Zimbabwe represented by the Ministry of Lands, Agriculture, Fisheries, Water and Rural Development entered into a contract with Blackdeck Livestock and Poultry Farming, represented by Moses Mpofu, valued at US$87 757 168.00 for the supply and delivery of 632 001 goats over a period of five years.

It was agreed that the Ministry of Lands will make an advance payment of 30 percent to Blackdeck Livestock and Poultry Farming towards the purchase of the goats, which was eventually paid.

During yesterday’s Parliament session, Adv Mudenda said launching a parallel investigation into the matter was not only imprudent, but unconstitutional as ZACC was already seized with the case.

In his ruling, Adv Mudenda said while the concern was valid, acceding to it was like trying to close the door when the proverbial horse had long bolted.

He said there was no longer need to involve Parliament since the Executive, through ZACC, had already launched investigations.

He said if Parliament had managed to pick the allegations on time, they could have raised it and possibly referred it to ZACC on time.

“That is a good suggestion but as Parliament we must observe the doctrine of separation of powers. If one arm of the State is seized with a matter, you cannot, as Parliament, come in to investigate,” said Adv Mudenda.

He said Parliament will still be able to debate the case, given that ZACC is obliged to table annual reports to Parliament outlining its work.

Adv Mudenda said his ruling did not mean that he had gagged debate as what the “gutter press” have sought to accuse him of in the past.

Justice, Legal and Parliamentary Affairs Minister Ziyambi Ziyambi concurred with Adv Mudenda saying it was no longer necessary for Parliament to move in since ZACC was already dealing with the matter.

He said Adv Mudenda’s ruling was a correct interpretation of the law.

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