Minister Matiza dragged into fuel scam

November 11, 2020

Brenna Matendere

Transport minister Biggie Matiza’s personal assistant, Cephas Chiwetu on Monday claimed in court that his boss benefited from a US$66,000 fuel scam.  

Chiwetu appeared in court for allegedly abusing his office by claiming fuel from the Zimbabwe National Roads Authority (ZINARA) and subsequently diverting it for personal use.

He appeared before Harare magistrate, Estere Chivasa.

The State, led by prosecutor George Manokore, alleged that Chiwetu requested the fuel from ZINARA on several occasions, claiming that it was meant to enable Matiza’s trips to areas in Manicaland that were affected by last year’s Cyclone Idai.

The cyclone hit parts of the province in March last, killing scores of people and displacing thousands whose homes were destroyed by the disaster.

Chiwetu claimed that some of the fuel went to the minister.

“I gave my boss (Matiza) some of the fuel coupons and kept others for stakeholders, including journalists to facilitate their covering of Cyclone Idai,” he said.

Lawyer Batanai Pesanai is representing Chiwetu, who pleaded not guilty to the offence and insisted Matiza had knowledge of how the fuel was used.

The roads authority has over the years been reportedly abused by high profile politicians, among them former Vice President Phelekezela Mphoko and ex-first lady Grace Mugabe who, in turn, were accused of shielding corrupt directors at ZINARA.

Matiza’s predecessor at the Transport ministry, Jorum Gumbo who has since been moved to the Office of the President and Cabinet, was also sucked into the corruption that has dogged ZINARA.

Matiza was in July accused of attempting to unilaterally reverse a US$400 million railroad recapitalisation deal that had been awarded to the Diaspora Infrastructure Development Group (DIDG).

At that time, there was speculation that Matiza wanted to award the tender to a company of his choice, but the minister denied it.

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