BY TAFADZWA KACHIKO
CHITUNGWIZA deputy mayor Kiven Mutimbanyoka’s business has been placed under investigation by the Zimbabwe Revenue Authority (Zimra) following allegations that he smuggled fruits, vegetables and groceries worth US$100 000 from South Africa into the country. Mutimbanyoka reportedly owns FreshCo, Brandstep Imports and Cruscate Investments directly and indirectly.
A source told NewsDay that Zimra’s loss control department launched an investigation on Saturday and seized the goods purported to have been smuggled at FreshCo along Emmerson Mnangagwa (Enterprise) Road and at his house in Greendale, Harare, after a tip-off by a disgruntled former employee.
The alleged smuggled goods, whose estimated value is US$100 000, include onions, potatoes, carrots, apples and groceries.
“Mutimbanyoka fired workers unceremoniously last week, and this didn’t go down well with them as they were very loyal to him. So in revenge, they exposed all his deals to Zimra on Saturday,” the source said.
His goods allegedly passed through Beitbridge Border Post to his warehouse in Greendale without paying duty. After whistleblowers alerted Zimra, they went and sealed the “smuggled goods,” one of the ex-employees said.
They said Zimra pounced on the deputy mayor’s businesses in the company of police officers.
Mutimbanyoka allegedly failed to produce permits and papers showing that he paid duty for the goods.
He then allegedly threatened the Zimra officials saying that he was politically connected.
Zimra spokesperson Francis Chimanda could neither confirm nor deny the issue.
“Zimra is not allowed to provide comments on issues involving individual taxpayers. But once it is in the public domain we can give updates saying so and so is appearing before the courts today,” Chimanda said.
Mutimbanyoka confirmed to NewsDay that Zimra was conducting an investigation on FreshCo.
“It’s very true that Zimra staff came at the instigation of my former partner Knowledge Muzanenhamo.
“These are just allegations and it’s a case of sour grapes.
“We parted ways and he somehow thinks that the way to get back at me is through fabricating stories.
“Zimra did an investigation and is still investigating. We are waiting for the outcome, but as it is I am still very innocent,” he said.
“Zimra imposed an embargo on FreshCo stopping us from selling the goods alleged to have been smuggled.
“It’s an allegation, the issue will just die a natural death,” he said.
FreshCo is co-owned by Mutimbanyoka and his mother Charity Munoambirwa.
Brandstep is registered in the name of his wife Petronela Chibvute, while Cruscate Investments is also owned by Mutimbanyoka.