By Everson Mushava
THE Minister of State in the President’s Office in charge of Implementation and Monitoring, Joram Gumbo, was yesterday arrested by the Zimbabwe Anti-Corruption Commission (Zacc) for criminal abuse of office during his time as Transport minister.
He becomes the second minister to be arrested in President Emmerson Mnangagwa’s anti-corruption fight after former Tourism minister Priscah Mupfumira, who is still on trial for criminal abuse of office, money-laundering and corruption involving US$95 million of the National Social Security Authority funds.
Gumbo, a key Mnangagwa ally who is from the President’s home province of Midlands, was arrested yesterday morning for crimes he allegedly committed when he was Transport minister under the late former President Robert Mugabe administration, Zacc spokesperson John Makamure confirmed.
According to his charge sheet, Gumbo was arrested over a prejudice of US$1 million towards the renting and renovation of a house belonging to his “relative,” Mavis Gumbo in Harare’s leafy Chishawasha suburb, which was used as the headquarters of Zimbabwe Airways, a new airline which suffered stillbirth after Mugabe was toppled in a coup in November 2017.
Simba Chikore, Mugabe’s son-in-law, was the chief executive of the airline.
“The accused corruptly and single-headedly picked his niece, Mavis Gumbo’s house, whose address is Number 1436 Gletywin, Chishawasha Hills, for use as the headquarters for Zimbabwe Airways,” part of the charge sheet read.
“On August 21, 2017, the accused directed that the monies from Zimbabwe Airways RBZ [Reserve Bank of Zimbabwe] account should be used to rent and renovate the purported Zimbabwe Airways headquarters office, a property belonging to his relative, Mavis Gumbo. The accused caused Zimbabwe Airways to enter into a property lease agreement for the rental of Number 1436 Gletywin, Chishawasha Hills, thereby showing favour to his relative, Mavis Gumbo.”
Zacc added: “The accused acted contrary and inconsistent with his duties as a public officer by showing favour to his relative Mavis Gumbo, thereby causing the government of Zimbabwe to be prejudiced of US$1 million as a result of such actions. To date, nothing has been recovered.”
The State is the complainant in the matter.
The anti-graft body also alleged that on September 12, 2017, Zimbabwe Airways deposited an amount of US$1 million into Maclaten Holdings’ Standard Chartered bank account, owned by Mavis’ daughter, Clara Rachael Mudzami, and nothing has been recovered.
According to the charge sheet, Zacc alleged, Gumbo in March 2012 “caused the formation of Zimbabwe Airways, a private entity”.
After the formation of the company, two officials from the Transport ministry, Andrew Bvumbe and Angeline Karonga, were appointed as directors to the company, which, according to the Memorandum and Articles of Association, was to do passenger, cargo and freight agency on international and domestic air terminals as well as provide customs bonded warehouse facilities, among other things.
But it has turned out that Gumbo was not Transport minister in 2012 as alleged in the charge sheet.
Instead, Nicholas Goche was.
Zacc made the same mistake in Mupfumira’s case, claiming her offence was committed before December 2014, when the former Tourism minister was appointed in December the same year.
Zacc officials declined to explain the anomaly.