ZIMBABWE National Roads Administration (Zinara), acting chief executive officer Engineer Moses Juma and non-executive director Davison Norupiri, who were unprocedurally released from police custody three weeks ago by Vice-President Phelekezela Mphoko after being arrested for allegedly defrauding the parastatal of US$1,3 million, appear to be off the hook.
This comes amid indications that President Robert Mugabe is reluctant to have the matter pursued.
Zinara is chaired by the president’s nephew Albert Mugabe, while Juma and Norupiri are close associates of the vice-president and First Lady Grace.
Mphoko, who was Acting President at the time, drove to Avondale Police Station in Harare and personally secured the release of the incarcerated duo on the grounds that they were his “boys”.
Government and police sources said Mphoko was so angry when he arrived at the police station that he took off his jacket and threatened to assault police officers after they refused to release the duo.
They had been arrested by Zimbabwe Anti-corruption Commission (Zacc) investigators. They have not appeared in court since being released. Asked if Zacc was still pursuing the matter and whether they would appear in court, the anti-corruption body’s principal public relations officer Phyllis Chikundura was none-committal.
“As of now I don’t know because there were released by a higher office. There are currently investigations underway,” Chikundura said in an interview.
Government officials told the Zimbabwe Independent that officials from the Office of the President and Cabinet (OPC) visited Zacc offices last week to gather details on the corruption case.
“Officers from the OPC questioned Zacc investigative officers, claiming the President wanted details on the corruption case, including how Zacc had conducted investigations leading to the arrest of the officials and their unprocedural release,” said one source. “They also wanted to know what evidence Zacc investigators had gathered.
The President, however, appears reluctant to have the matter pursued further, so it’s likely to die a natural death.”
Juma and Norupiri, as reported by the Independent last week, have been financing Grace and Mphoko’s political activities using Zinara funds.
Norupiri, who is also Zimbabwe National Chamber of Commerce (ZNCC) chairperson, played a key role in ensuring that Grace officiates as guest of honour at ZNCC’s national dinner and business awards in Victoria Falls last month.
Zinara has been sourcing goods, which Mphoko has subsequently donated to various constituencies in Bulawayo and Matabeleland provinces in a move aimed at propelling his political image.
In May, Juma accompanied Mphoko and Bulawayo Provincial Affairs minister Eunice Sandi-Moyo to the vice-president’s former primary school, Mzilikazi in Bulawayo, where he donated computers sourced by Zinara.
“I went out and sourced the computers which I was given by Zinara. The acting chief executive officer, Moses Juma, is here today to witness that I don’t divert the gadgets,” Mphoko revealed.
Two weeks later, Grace and Mphoko teamed up to hand over 30 000 bricks and 300 bags of cement to Mpopoma High School, also in Bulawayo, for the construction of an Advanced Level classroom block.
The consignment was sourced by Zinara and at the handover ceremony, Mphoko commended the parastatal for assisting Grace with the donation.
“I want to thank the First Lady for taking note of the request by Mpopoma High School. I also want to thank Zinara for assisting the First Lady in fulfilling the wish of the school to commence their construction projects,” said Mphoko at the function.
Government officials also said Zinara has in the past provided large quantities of fuel to Grace and Mphoko for travels to various meetings held countrywide.