Mzembi accused of stealing $1.8m
8 February 2018
Former Tourism and Hospitality Industry minister, Walter Mzembi appeared in court on allegations of stealing US$1.8 million that had been donated to the ministry by Mbada Diamonds for the 20th United Nations World Tourism Organisation (UNWTO) Conference in 2012.
Mzembi, 54, Aaron Dzingirai Mushoriwa, 62, who was one of the consultants contracted by the ministry and Margret Sangarwe a former permanent secretary were not asked to plead when they appeared before Harare magistrate Rumbidzai Mugwagwa, 59, charged with theft of trust property.
They were granted US$300 bail each and the matter was remanded to March 7.
Allegations are that sometime in 2011, Zimbabwe and Zambia won the bid to co-host the 20th United Nations World Tourism Organisation (UNWTO) General Assembly Convention that was to be held in August 2013.
The Ministry of Tourism and Hospitality Industry was then tasked to spearhead the fundraising of resources for preparations and hosting the event.
In May 2012, the ministry entered into a contact with the Professional Conference Organisers (consultants) Rosemary Mukogo and Mushoriwa.
The consultants were to conduct fundraising activities, sourcing funds from the corporate world and assisting in the management of the project.
Mzembi was the supervisor of the contract and the consultants were reporting and taking instructions from him.
They reportedly opened a bank account to receive funds for the project and Mbada Diamonds pledged to sponsor as a Global Partner to the tune of US$2 500 000.
During the period extending from September 2012 to August 2013 Mbada Diamonds made several deposits into the ministry’s ZB account which amounted to US$810 000.
The accused persons reportedly paid US$150 000 to Croco Motors for three vehicles (Ford Rangers) and registered them in the name of a UNWTO Trust which was nonexistent.
Upon completion of the UNWTO General Assembly in 2013, the accused persons connived not to surrender the cars to the contracting authority instead they reportedly stole and converted the vehicles to their own use.
The total value which was used on the cars is US$184 336 and it was recovered.
The State further alleges that Mzembi and Mushoriwa withdrew US$1.6 million which was also donated by Mbada Diamonds towards UNWTO and converted it to their own use.