Lloyd Gumbo: Senior Reporter
Zanu-PF legislator for Harare East Cde Terrence Mukupe has been mentioned in the fuel scam involving four tankers that entered the country with 140 000 litres of diesel purportedly in transit to the Democratic Republic of Congo, whose contents were emptied in Chitungwiza and replaced with water.The Zimbabwe Revenue Authority did not charge excise duty for the fuel at Forbes Border Post after being duped the cargo was destined for the DRC. This prejudiced the State of $55 650.
Zimra intercepted the four tankers at Chirundu Border Post after detecting a suspicious detour using its newly installed electronic cargo tracking system, and upon inspecting the trucks discovered that they were now carrying water.
Cde Mukupe referred The Herald to his lawyer, Mr Brian Hungwe, who confirmed in written responses that the legislator got involved in the matter as an agent for the owners of the fuel.
Mr Hungwe said Mr Mukupe followed the trucks up to Chirundu Border Post where they were intercepted, saying the deviation to Chitungwiza had been communicated at Forbes.
“Our client visited Chirundu as an agent of the owners of the fuel,” Mr Hungwe said. “His visit to Chirundu was a follow up to his seized trucks because Zimra had refused to inspect the trucks and had shockingly chased away the logistics company drivers,” he said.
“There was a genuine fear that the contents of the trucks would be tampered with. Zimra has not yet contacted Mr Mukupe and no correspondence exists that they are holding any goods that he owns,” said the lawyer.
“Our client is shocked that the Zimra statement (issued on Tuesday) was issued without any prior interview or communication with him.”
Mr Hungwe said they had been instructed by their client to file an appeal to the Acting Commissioner General of Zimra.
“No one from Zimra has communicated anything to Mr Mukupe, and he is having to rely on some information posted on their website to appeal,” he said.
“Zimra does not dispute the fact that the seals were not tampered with from Forbes Border Post, the point of entry, to Chirundu. Any tampering with the electronic device would have been picked up. The deviation from the route to Chitungwiza was communicated at the point of entry,” said Mr Hungwe.
“The Zimra officers that visited the trucks in Chitungwiza did not notice any tampering with the seals. They were intact, it did not provoke any suspicion. At Chirundu Border Post, again, Mr Mukupe avers that there was no evidence of tampering of the seals found. Whatever the contents that were inside, Mr Mukupe says he has no information or evidence that indeed it was water found inside the containers.”
After referring The Herald to Mr Hungwe, Cde Mukupe accused the newspaper of working on a “defamatory story” and alleged that money had been offered for its publication to tarnish his image by the so-called G40 faction in Zanu-PF.
“Handiti watonyora a defamatory article,” he said in a text message response in reference to this newspaper’s story in yesterday’s edition, which ironically did not mention his name.
“Go to company records and check your facts. Dzorera G40 mari yavakupa… I have nothing to say to you my brother. Continue with Zimra and your sources.”
Insiders told The Herald that investigations indicated that Cde Mukupe had interests in the company – New Corp Energy – that imported the fuel using trucks owned by Tanom Logistics that had three tankers and another owned by Success Enteprises.
The sources told The Herald that the four trucks intercepted and seized by Zimra at Chirundu were owned by Success Enterprise – truck registration number ACQ 6489 of 3792, Shumba Road, Ruwa – and three Tanom Logistics trucks registration numbers ABN 4008, ACZ 0771 and AAS 6386 of stand number K2804 of Katanga, Norton.
One of the drivers was arrested at Chirundu, while the other three disappeared before physical inspection of their trucks after picking up that Zimra had tracked them.
“Zimra inquired with Cde Mukupe why the trucks had diverted and he said the drivers were resting, but would proceed on their journey on 30 January,” said the source. “Apparently, the MP drove to Chirundu trying to negotiate with the Zimra manager there to clear the cargo. But the manager told him the trucks were under tracking from Harare.”
Another source added: “When Zimra then physically examined the cargo they found that the tankers were carrying water instead of diesel that they declared at Forbes.
“Cde Mukupe almost left his car at the border post, running away thinking that he was going to be arrested. So, he has been calling people at Zimra from his hiding place.”
Zimra board chairperson, Mrs Willia Bonyongwe, said evasion was one of the major problems facing the revenue collector.
“It’s so sad from where I sit that daily we get reports of smuggling, under-declarations using low values or wrong tariffs,” she said. “It is sad what we are doing to our country when you look at our roads and our hospitals. I believe without evasion we could collect enough for all our recurrent and most of our capital expenditure as a nation.”
The New Corp Energy directors are listed as Sithembiso Nyoni, Graham Pearce Mommsen and Lawrence Johannes Hoffman, but the company file was last updated in 2007.
Small to Medium Enterprises and Cooperative Development Minister Sithembiso Nyoni told The Herald that it was probably her namesake listed as one of the directors.