A HARARE magistrate has set May 24 as the trial date for former Zanu PF MP for Muzarabani South and Zimbabwe Farmers’ Development Company (ZFDC) chairperson Edward Raradza who is facing charges of defrauding ZFDC of more than $10 million.

Raradza (71), who is jointly charged with his son, Mathew (46) and ZFDC executive director administration Thomas Nherera (68) appeared before magistrate Barbara Mateko yesterday.

They are on $300 bail each.

ZFDC, the complainant, was represented by its director Aaron Nhepera.

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Raradza, Mathew and Nherera were all represented by Tinashe Zintu.

ZFDC was incorporated under the Companies Act, with Farmers World Zimbabwe (Pvt) Ltd having a 55% shareholding, while government, represented by Hero Fence, holds the remaining 45% of the shares.

ZFDC was to source agricultural equipment from China and hand it to eligible farmers through a credit facility. Each beneficiary was supposed to make a payment of 10% deposit to the company.

Between 2005 and 2010, ZFDC received agricultural equipment on credit through China Export and Import Bank valued at $60 million, which was guaranteed by the government.

The State alleges that upon receipt of the equipment, the accused, who are also directors of Zambezi Gas (Pvt) Ltd and Weldwell (Pvt) Ltd, connived to steal the agricultural equipment from ZFDC.

They reportedly stole tractors, among other equipment, valued at $9,74 million.

The State also alleged that in May 2011, former Zifa president Philip Chiyangwa got farming implements on credit worth $597 844 and the accused reduced the debt to $500 000 without the board’s approval.

It is alleged Raradza and his son transferred the bulk of the money amounting to $494 423 into an account belonging to Coachcard Investments (Private) Limited, which is owned by Raradza’s wife, Julie.

The State further alleges that the reduction of Chiyangwa’s debt, the transfer of money from ZFDC into a private company account, was done to steal money.
It is also alleged that $494 423 was lost and nothing was recovered.