BY DESMOND CHINGARANDE
FORMER Tourism minister Walter Mzembi’s accomplice in the case of theft of trust property valued US$1,8 million, which was fundraised for the 2013 United Nations World Tourism Organisation (UNWTO) conference, was yesterday acquitted of the charges after a full trial.
Suzanna Kuhudzayi Makombe, who appeared before magistrate Hosea Mujaya, was found not guilty of the charges.
Mujaya ruled that the State failed to prove a prima facie case against her, saying no evidence linking her to the commission of the crime was produced.
The case was being handled by prosecutor Brian Vito from the President’s Office Special Anti-Corruption Unit.
Allegations were that sometime in 2011, Zimbabwe and Zambia won the bid to co-host 20th UNWTO conference in August 2013 and Mzembi’s ministry came up with various avenues to fundraise for the global event.
It was alleged this led to the signing of a 24-month contract between Aaron Mushoriwa’s Professional Conference Organisers (PCO) and the Tourism ministry and
Mzembi’s duty was to supervise the contractors.
The State alleged Kuhudzayi and Mushoriwa formed a consultancy company, Conventions Africa, which was not registered, and appointed themselves sole signatories
to the PCO contract signed with the Tourism ministry.
Kuhudzayi and Mushoriwa opened a bank account in the name of Conventions Africa.
It was the State’s case that using letters written on government letterheads and originating from Mzembi’s office, Mushoriwa and Kuhudzayi approached the
corporate world, seeking donations in cash and kind towards the UNWTO conference.
Several companies allegedly deposited money into Mushoriwa and Kuhudzayi’s unregistered company bank account, believing they were donating to the conference.
Mbada Diamonds, donated about $1,6 million, of which $810 000 was transferred directly into Conventions Africa’s account.
The court heard that Mushoriwa and Kuhudzayi connived with Mzembi and withdrew $1,6 million from the Conventions Africa’s account on various occasions.
Mzembi, Mushoriwa, Kuhudzai and former Tourism secretary Margaret Sangarwe allegedly bought three Ford Ranger double-cab vehicles from Croco Motors and
received another Tata Xenon double-cab vehicle from Mimosa Mines.
At the end of the UNWTO conference, the accused allegedly shared the vehicles among themselves and Kuhudzayi allegedly sold his vehicle to an unsuspecting