Zanu-PF youth leader Kudzai Chipanga has drawn brickbats from students’ unions for defending the siphoning of $270 000 from the Zimbabwe Manpower Development Fund (Zimdef) by Higher and Tertiary, Science and Technology Development Minister Professor Jonathan Moyo and his deputy Dr Godfrey Gandawa.
Zimdef, whose funding comes from industry, was created to benefit students at tertiary institutions, including when they are on attachment. However, Prof Moyo and Dr Gandawa used the money to strengthen social ties in their constituencies by buying bicycles and motorcycles.
Dr Gandawa, according to documents, at one point bought personal furniture using the Zimdef funds. Prof Moyo has admitted the abuse, but tried to justify it.
Chipanga, who is also accused of benefiting from 100 000 litres of fuel from Zimdef, was on Tuesday quoted in the private media slamming the Zimbabwe Anti-Corruption Commission, The Herald and the Ministry of Information, Media and Broadcasting Services for exposing the rot.
Chipanga, without explaining how he used his loot, claimed those exposing the shenanigans were pursuing a factional agenda and wanted to derail Zanu-PF programmes.
Zimbabwe Congress of Students Union president, Tonderai Chidawa, said Chipanga was the least qualified person to comment on the issue as he also owed Zimbabweans an explanation. He said no-one should be allowed to abuse public funds and hide behind party programmes.
“The sponsoring done to the party by State enterprises is done willingly not in an extortionist, corrupt manner or to further the interests of a particular being, especially a high ranking official like a Minister,” Chidawa said.
“Chipanga, who does not have more than three Ordinary Level subjects, is the least qualified person to talk about this saga because he himself is implicated. His comments show that he is suffering from intellectual paralysis. If there are people to comment about these funds, it’s the students and industry, where the money comes from.”
Prof Moyo on Sunday identified Chipanga as a beneficiary of the 100 000 litres of fuel from Zimdef. The fuel was allegedly requested by the Zimbabwe Youth Council on July 26, 2016 for a “skills gap assessment programme”.
Tweeted Prof Moyo: “I approved request for 100K litres of fuel from CEO of NYC Livingstone Dzikira. He & Kudzai Chipanga took ALL of it!”
Chidawa said: “Where is Chipanga coming from? He should rather be telling us where he went with the fuel he got. He can’t be a beneficiary of fuel coupons. He is neither a Zimdef, Ministry official, neither is he a student.
“He should focus on ensuring that the youths get the stands they were promised rather than commenting on what he doesn’t know. The issue of abuse of Zimdef funds, which we are calling an academic Afghanistan, is a no go area for Chipanga.”
Zimbabwe National Students Union spokesperson Zivai Mhetu, said corruption had no place in a country reviving its economy.
“The economy has deteriorated and we have reasons that we think have caused this and one of them is corruption by public officials,” he said.
“For someone to come in defence of looters and condemning those exposing irregularities, it will only leave a mark that the person is also corrupt. In any case, his actions will see us mobilising and demanding our grants, which were scrapped on the pretext that Government had no money. We had accepted the situation, but behaviour of some people defending corrupt elements makes us think that we are being taken for a ride.
Prof Moyo, Dr Gandawa, Zimdef chief executive Mr Frederick Mandizvidza and Zimdef principal director (finance) Mr Nicholas Mapute could have unlawfully benefited from $430 000 of the State enterprise’s money between November 2015 and June 2016, documents show. ZACC is investigating other alleged abuses of Zimdef funds by Prof Moyo, his deputy and three subordinates.
The five are being investigated for five charges of fraud as defined in Section 136 of Criminal Law (Codification and Reform) Act (Chapter 9:23), and three charges under the Money Laundering and Proceeds of Crime Act (Chapter 9:24).
Cde Chipanga declined to comment on issues of his academic achievements, saying it was none of the two students’ unions’ business.
“The person (Mr Chidawa) that you are quoting is not in Zicosu leadership since he has since finished his studies. Zicosu is an affiliate of our organisation and we have the current leadership. As far as we understand, Chidawa was expelled for denigrating the President.
“As for Zinasu, it’s not our business to make an MDC-T organisation happy. We do not work to please an opposition affiliate organisation. We do work to please our membership. If Zinasu members are not happy, then we are happy,” he said.
Chidawa insisted he was still with Zicosu and denied denigrating President Mugabe. He said he was expelled because he declined to push a factional agenda Cde Chipanga and other party officials wanted to pursue.
“I never denigrated the President. I challenge Chipanga to bring the evidence. I am a solid supporter of President Mugabe. In fact, during the One Million-Man Much I was in the forefront of mobilising hundreds of thousands of students to participate in the march,” he said.
Mr Chidawa said he was still a bonafide leader of the student union body until 2017.
“According to Zicosu constitution, I am supposed to lead until February 2017, when we hold our congress. This is coming from someone who does not understand how our constitution operates,” he said.
Meanwhile, the Zimbabwe Youth Council yesterday confirmed the siphoning of 100 000 litres of fuel form Zimdef.
In an emailed statement yesterday, the council’s executive director Mr Livingstone Dzikira — who is also accused of personally benefiting from the fuel — claimed the diesel was sent to the Zanu-PF Youth League. He said the fuel was meant for a youth skills mapping exercise.
“The Youth Council therefore wishes to place it on record that the said fuel is with Zanu-PF Youth League, having received that support through their membership of the Zimbabwe Youth Council,” he said.
“The secretariat of the Youth League signed for this fuel and therefore is fully accountable for the usage of that fuel. In due course we expect that the Zanu-PF Youth League will furnish the Youth Council with its annual report, which will include this support together with a report on the specific outputs of the programme of Youth Skills Assessment that they are conducting in the districts of the country, for which they requested this support.
“The information surrounding this transaction was secured by investigators of ZACC, an anti- corruption constitutional body, which has not yet completed its investigations and yet the media has already been debriefed of the case.
“This leakage to the media of incomplete information betrays an agenda that is more political than professional. It would be interesting to know whether ZACC will investigate its officers for disclosing to the media information on a case that is still pending.