BY CHARLES LAITON
Prosecutor-General Kumbirai Hodzi has approached the High Court, seeking an order to forfeit four vehicles recovered from former Tourism minister Walter Mzembi and three other officials which they had allegedly converted to their own personal use following the hosting of the United Nations World Tourism Organization (UNWTO) General Assembly in 2013.
In his application for a civil forfeiture order, Hodzi, through his principal public prosecutor, Tapiwa Kasema, cited Mzembi, ex-Tourism ministry permanent secretary Margaret Sangarwe and two others namely Susana Kuhudzai and Aaron Mushoriwa.
In his founding affidavit, Kasema said the vehicles in question – three Ford Rangers and a Tata Xenon double cab – were bought using money provided by Mbada Diamonds and Mimosa Mining Company which both donated US$815 000 and US$33 626, respectively.
According to Kasema, the vehicles were supposed to have been surrendered to the Tourism and Hospitality Industry ministry at the end of the UNWTO General Assembly, but Mzembi and his colleagues, contrary to government procedure, took permanent possession of them.
“The deliberate failure by the officials to surrender the vehicles to the ministry and converting them to their personal use after the completion of the UNWTO General Assembly was theft of trust property as defined in section 113 of the Criminal Law (Codification and Reform) Act,” Kasema said.
“For the foregoing, I can conclude that Walter Mzembi committed a serious offence which rendered the vehicle a tainted property and subject to forfeiture to the State,” he said, referring to the other three vehicles.
Apparently, criminal charges against Mzembi’s colleagues were withdrawn before plea as the State felt it could not proceed to trial in the absence of the main culprit, who in this matter is said to be Mzembi, who has been declared a fugitive from justice.
The matter is pending.