Mliswa's Case Sucks In RBZ

Mliswa who has implicated Police Commissioner General Augustine Chihuri, former Zanu (PF) chairman for Mashonaland East Paddy Zhanda and Jocylene Chiwenga, the wife of Zimbabwe Defence Forces Commander General Constantine Chiwenga among individuals who bought property from him that he allegedly looted from white owned farms allegedly prejudiced the RBZ of US$3.5 million between June 2008 and July 2010.

Police investigating the case who include Detective Inspector Masvokweni and Detective Inspector Madakuchekwa allege in their request for remand that Mliswa’s company Salt Lakes Holdings defaulted on depositing US$3.5 million into a CBZ bank account belonging to the RBZ, which the tobacco trading company had pledged to deposit funds into. Moris Bekezela Mpofu, the RBZ’s Division Chief for Export Facilitation, Foreign Exchange mobilisation and Administration is cited as the complainant.

Under an agreement entered between Salt Lakes and the RBZ, the tobacco merchant firm was granted a Memorandum of Deposit (MOD) by the central bank with a limit of US$5 million in June 2008. According to Detective Inspector Masvokweni and Detective Inspector Madakuchekwa, the MOD was a special facility where the central bank would advance Zimbabwe dollars to deserving newly registered tobacco merchants to enable them to purchase tobacco from the auction floors. While disbursements from the RBZ were in Zimbabwe dollars the merchant’s obligation to the central bank was in foreign currency following export of he tobacco by the merchant.

The RBZ further granted Mliswa US$7.5 million through Premier Bank after Salt Lakes had initially applied for a US$15 million MOD facility to purchase green leaf tobacco.

Later on Salt Lakes and the RBZ agreed to an MOD facility amounting to US$6.5 million which amount Salt Lakes was expected to pay back to the RBZ once they processed and exported tobacco by 31 December 2008.

In order for the RBZ to protect its interest the central bank agreed with Mliswa to open an account with CBZ Bank in the care of the bank’s managing director John Mangudya who would then remit the money to the RBZ.

All the money accrued from the sale of the tobacco purchased through this facility was supposed to be deposited into a CBZ account number 21341380039 domiciled at the bank’s Kwame Nkrumah branch.

But Mliswa allegedly defaulted on the arrangement he had entered into with the RBZ requiring him to deposit any proceeds from the sale of tobacco into the CBZ account.

After Salt Lakes sold tobacco valued at US$3.5 million through Savanna, an indigenous tobacco manufacturing company Mliswa allegedly instructed Savanna to stop depositing payment into the CBZ account and gave the tobacco manufacturers new payment instructions.

The police say Savanna ended up depositing payments into Mliswa’s various accounts that include Cubs Den Consolidated account number 10121143902014 with African Banking Corporation, BMZ and TSF which Dr Mangudya of CBZ who had been entrusted to oversee the account had no control.

“So far the investigating team has established that US$1 160 635 was diverted and converted by the accused to his own use to the prejudice of RBZ. …..Another amount of US$966 184. 90 realised from the sale of tobacco from Savanna is yet to be accounted for. The total amount prejudiced is US$3.5 million and accused has failed to produce the new tobacco which he was supposed to purchase from the 50 percent he was supposed to use to purchase new tobacco on the current year. The accused had no lawful right to divert the money and prejudiced the State,” reads part of the court papers which were seen by Radio VOP on Monday.

Mliswa, who is related to Presidential Affairs Minister and Zanu (PF) secretary for administration Didymus Mutasa has been granted bail twice before and on each occasion police have moved in before he left the court buildings to arrest him and press new charges.

Mliswa’s case has opened a can of worms as displaced white commercial farmers are now demanding the arrest of top Zanu (PF) officials, for looting their property during the violent and bloody invasions. They also want the looted property returned.