Chimombe, Mpofu to languish further in prison

By  Agencies

Harare,– Controversial businessmen Mike Chimombe and Moses Mpofu have been remanded in custody pending their bail determination.

The two appeared before Harare magistrate Marewanazvo Gofa, who upheld the State’s application to postpone the matter to Thursday, allowing time for the State to present evidence from investigating officers.

Chimombe, 43, and Mpofu, 49, are facing fraud charges related to their involvement in a dubious contract to supply goats for the US$88 million Presidential Goat Pass-On Scheme.

The defense lawyers, Ashiel Mugiya and Tapson Dzvetero, argued that bail should not be an issue as their clients had come from home. However, State prosecutor Anesu Chirenje countered that the two were brought from the custody of the Zimbabwe Anti-Corruption Commission (ZACC) and opposed the bail application.

The charges against Chimombe and Mpofu involve allegations of forging a ZIMRA Tax Clearance certificate and an NSSA compliance certificate for Mpofu’s company, Blackdeck Private Limited. These forged documents were submitted in a bidding document to the Ministry of Lands for a tender to supply goats under the Presidential Goat Pass-On Scheme

The State claims that the accused misrepresented the compliance status of their company. Investigations revealed that the QR code and reference on the NSSA compliance certificate were issued to a different company and that Blackdeck Private Limited had been deregistered from the NSSA system in January 2016. Additionally, the company did not possess a valid ZIMRA tax clearance certificate for 2021, and the QR code on the forged certificate belonged to another company.

Based on these misrepresentations, the Ministry of Lands contracted Blackdeck Private Limited on November 3, 2021. The Ministry subsequently transferred ZWL 901,294,200 and ZWL 698,705,800 into the company’s bank account in April and June 2022, respectively, totaling ZWL 1.6 billion, equivalent to USD 7,712,197.

Despite assurances from the accused that they had mobilized 32,500 goats ready for distribution, a verification process uncovered that only 3,713 goats were available. Consequently, the Ministry canceled the contract on August 29, 2022, after discovering the discrepancies.

The State alleges that the accused only supplied a total of 4,208 goats valued at USD 331,445 and misappropriated USD 7,380,751 for personal use. None of the funds have been recovered.

Chimombe and Mpofu’s remand in custody and the upcoming bail hearing mark a critical juncture in a case that has drawn significant attention due to its implications for government corruption and fraud.

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