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Kingpins of US$40m Zec scandal fear repercussions

KEY players in the murky US$40 million Zimbabwe Electoral Commission (Zec) elections deal, Wicknell Chivayo, Moses Mpofu and Mike Chimombe,




KEY players in the murky US$40 million Zimbabwe Electoral Commission (Zec) elections deal, Wicknell Chivayo, Moses Mpofu and Mike Chimombe, are aware that their financial transactions border on money laundering, new information from a letter and leaked audios has revealed.

Chivayo is currently at pains to cleanse himself in the corrupt deal, first broken by The NewsHawks, in which he would supply biometric voter registration kits and other voting materials.

The deal was put together by Mpofu — previously involved in Zec tenders — Chimombe, a Zanu PF activist and empowerment lobbyist, Chivayo, a leading tenderpreneur, and gold baron Pedzai “Scott” Sakupwanya in February 2023.

Chivayo and Sakupwanya are close to President Emmerson Mnangagwa.

The first tender, worth US$40 million, was in two phases, with the first for about US$20 million, of which a balance would be paid later.

In terms of the agreement signed between Better Brands Security (Pvt) Ltd and Ren-Form, obtained by The NewsHawks some months back, the advance payment was US$19 957 301 (about US$20 million).

That was 50% of the contract value. This means the closed tender, which was selective or restricted, given to Chivayo and others without a competitive bidding process and transparency on account of time limits for the polls, patronage and corruption, was worth US$39 914 602 — about US$40 million.

Invoices were inflated by up to 235% for rent-seeking purposes and paying the parties involved, rewards and bribes. The deal was approved by the Office of the President and Cabinet, drawing in Mnangagwa.

In a leaked audio, Chivayo is heard instructing the key players, Chimombe and Mpofu, to avoid an offshore account that had been opened by Sakupwanya to avoid being charged under the Money Laundering Act.

“South Africa has received the money and they said that they want to start off with payments of US$1 million with Better Brands, which is what we had signed a contract for. Then after the holiday, we had agreed to give them seven days so that they will not be affected by the Money Laundering Act. So I have been putting pressure so they can deposit US$1 million,” Chivayo said in the leaked audio. 

He also explains how one of the payments was split around the Easter holidays.
Chivayo says US$1 million had been sent to Better Brands Security (Pty) in South Africa. The US$1m sent from Treasury in Zimbabwe was deposited into an FNB Bank account No. 63039713525, Sandton branch, held by Better Brands Security (Pty) Ltd, a South African-registered entity. Better Brands Security (Pvt) Ltd is Zimbabwean registered, while Better Brands Security (Pty) Ltd is South African based.

They are both subsidiaries of the Better Brands Group owned by Sakupwanya.

Chivayo says out of the US$1 million received, Sakupwanya was going to get US$350 000; himself US$150 000; Mpofu US$150 000; Chimombe US$150 000; “Moms vaya” (meaning Zec chairperson Priscilla Chigumba) US$100 000; and “DG” (referring to the state security agency, Central Intelligence Organisation ‘CIO’ Director-General Issac Moyo) US$100 000.

The letter by Chivayo’s partners Chimombe and Mpofu to Ren-Form executive Angus Carlaw complaining about Chivayo’s actions warns that the transactions being done from Zimbabwe to South Africa may well be in breach of money laundering regulations, United States Office of Foreign Assets Control and South African laws, particularly the Financial Intelligence Centre Act.

Chimombe and Mpofu say have been on a collision course with Chivayo over non-payment of dividends from the deal.

“We are aware that as soon as funds are received into your Standard Bank account number 002742659 held at Southdale Branch, you will immediately transfer more than 66% of the money received to Wicknell Chivayo’s Intratrek bank accounts,” it reads.

“This is clear violation of your participation in money laundering where you are overcharging the Government of Zimbabwe and sending the overcharged money to individual accounts. Please be advised that most of the individuals involved in the laundering are on the US Office of Foreign Control (OFAC) sanctions list.

“Therefore, you are assisting sanctioned individuals to hide money, which is a very serious offense. It comes to light the Department of the US Treasury; you will be in serious trouble. The Reserve Bank of South Africa will sanction you if they become aware of your illicit activities.”

The corrupt transactions involve movement of money on behalf of Zec from Zimbabwe’s Treasury to Better Brands and Ren-Form accounts in South Africa where it is distributed to beneficiaries so far identified by Chivayo as Chimombe, Mpofu, Sakupwanya, the owner of Better Brands, Zec chairperson Chigumba and CIO Director-General Moyo.

According to the letter, Chivayo has also been claiming to be paying top government officials and politicians from the corrupt tender. The massive scandal — first exposed by The NewsHawks — has rocked the government and non-state actors involved.

“Of interest, please note that Mr. Chivhayo is misleading you by claiming that he is giving top government officials money he is receiving. That is a total lie. Even the president of Zimbabwe is unaware that he is getting huge commissions using his name.

“This money has driven him crazy and that’s why if you check his social media, he is on a buying spree of cars, donating to different individuals across the country yet he is failing to pay us what we agreed. We expect 25% of all monies paid to Wicknell Chivayo.” 

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