US$3m CMED looters face arrest

US$3m CMED looters face arrest

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Government has made a formal police report against people suspected to have pocketed US$3 million from CMED (Pvt) Ltd after they channelled the money to a private company for fuel that was never delivered, a Cabinet minister has said. Transport and Infrastructure Development Minister Dr Obert Mpofu yesterday said the suspects were “characters and businesspeople who are well-known”, but he would not divulge their names.

In an interview with The Herald, Dr Mpofu said: “Yes, a police report has been made.”

Contacted for comment, police spokesperson Senior Assistant Commissioner Charity Charamba — who has on several occasions said she will not speak to this paper — said she was on another line.

Thereafter, another officer answered her phone and said they would get in touch if they had anything to share with The Herald.

They had not done so by the time of going to print.

Earlier in the day, after announcing a new CMED board, Dr Mpofu said the parastatal’s leadership should immediately pursue the case.

“There have been claims that these guys are untouchable, but we are going to touch them,” he said. “We do not want any bureaucratic approach to this matter because this will tarnish the image of the institution.

“Even my managers (at CMED) have been accused unnecessarily, but the actual people are there. We want that money and it should be repaid.

“The people who collected the money from CMED are known and they are around. The matter has been reported to the police.

“It is not money that was stolen from CMED, but it is money that was collected by characters and businesspeople who are well known. Their businesses and premises of operation are known.”

Dr Mpofu said the new CMED board should “bring these people to account and let them make good of what they have prejudiced the state.

“That is what we are going to do until they are brought to book,” he said.

Former Zimbabwe Mining Development Corporation chair Mr Godwills Masimirembwa is the new CMED chairperson, deputised by former police Asst Comm Seymour Mpofu.

Other board members are Mr Chipiwa Philimon Pasipamire, Mrs Sihle Khabo, Mrs Tinotenda Nhwede, Mr Phinias Lugube, Engineer Tedious Chinyanga and Mrs Rita Lukukuma.

Dr Mpofu said there was much misinformation on the botched fuel deal in which CMED paid US$3 million for three million litres of diesel through an offshore account to First Oil last year.

The fuel, bought on the strength of two letters from State petroleum marketer and distributor Petrotrade, has not been delivered to date.

Questions have been raised as to why the money was paid via an offshore account and not through the supplier.

All in all, CMED lost US$7 million as it had to look for another US$3 million, including interest, to pay off a loan the parastatal had secured from ZB Bank to pay First Oil.

Dr Mpofu dismissed the need for a commission of inquiry into the case.

“If they do not pay that money back or supply whatever was supposed to be supplied in terms of that arrangement then the law has to take its course,” he said.

“Those were public funds and from my earlier experience as a civil servant no one is allowed to keep public funds for more than 24 hours. These people have kept the money for more than that.”

There are indications that First Oil was picked without going through the State Procurement Board, and that its import licence expired three months before its engagement.

Dr Mpofu told the board that CMED had great potential which should be explored fully.

“I am directing you to get involved in public transportation, in particular urban transportation, as part of Government’s thrust to curtail challenges facing urban passengers. As such, a results-based management performance tool should be implemented to enable us to track progress and performance. Do not pursue personal interests ahead of those of the organisation and ministry.”

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