By Anna Chibamu
VICE PRESIDENT Constantino Chiwenga received top-of-the-range vehicles from controversial businessman, Kuda Tagwirei to escort his children to school and another to supervise the Command Agriculture programme.
This is contained in papers Chiwenga filed at the High Court in a matter between him and his estranged wife, Marry Chiwenga (nee Mubaiwa).
Last week, Marry took her husband to court accusing the retired military boss of abducting the couple’s minor children while she was in remand prison. She also accused Chiwenga of locking her out of their matrimonial home and grabbing family vehicles.
In his response, Chiwenga said the vehicles that Marry was claiming were government vehicles or donations from well-wishers and should not be part of disputed properties.
Among the vehicles is a Mercedes Benz E350 used as an escort vehicle for the couple’s children. The vehicle, according to Chiwenga, was a donation from Tagwirei.
Tagwirei owns Sakunda Holdings, which specialises in importing fuel and distribution of agricultural inputs under government’s opaque Command Agriculture scheme.
Under the scheme, Chiwenga received a Toyota Lexus. He is also a beneficiary of a Mercedes Benz E350 and S400, which are Defence Ministry vehicles for personal use. This is on top of the presidential motorcade that he is allocated as the VP.
Tagwirei and his companies have been fingered in acts of foreign currency dealings and was at one-time believed to be Queen B outed by controversial former Zanu PF youth empowerment lobbyist Acie Lumumba as heavily involved in Zimbabwe’s multi-billion dollar illegal forex dealings.
His firms had their bank accounts last year frozen by the central bank on suspicions they were responsible for the volatile foreign currency rate of exchange that were obtaining.
Kuda Tagwirei (right) pictured some time with President Emmerson Mnangagwa and VP Chiwenga
Chiwenga said the only vehicle Marry could lay claim to was a Range Rover (Autobiography).
He also dismissed allegations by Marry that she had been rendered destitute after she was chased out of the couple’s matrimonial home in the upmarket Borrowdale suburb, Harare.
“Applicant cannot be rendered destitute. She has two properties in South Africa and four cars thereat.
“In Zimbabwe she has houses as mentioned in the summons. That is not a destitute. On bail condition, she must amend paragraph (c) to indicate where she is currently residing right now. On the rule of law, I am unable to understand the purport of this,” read part of his response.
The VP, who is the current Acting President as President Emmerson Mnangagwa is on his annual leave, has also demanded to know where Mubaiwa is staying.
Chiwenga changed locks for the family’s Borrowdale home after Marry was arrested last month for attempting to kill the VP at a private hospital in South Africa where he was receiving treatment and fraud.
She spent three weeks in remand prison before being granted bail two weeks ago at the High Court.
Last year, the government paid US$366 million in government bonds to Sakunda Holdings for supplying Command Agriculture inputs.
The payouts were made in Zimbabwe dollars at an exchange rate that translated into massive money printing.
However, the consequences of the payments to Sakunda have added to disquiet in Zimbabwe over allegations of ‘State capture’, exploitation of public institutions and funds for private interests by Tagwirei.
Opposition parties have also accused Tagwirei of using his connections in Zanu PF and the Reserve Bank of Zimbabwe to build his business.
Last year, he refused to appear before the Tendai Biti-led parliamentary portfolio Public Accounts Committee (PAC) to explain how Sakunda used funds under the Command Agriculture scheme.
In mid-2019, revelations of possible abuse of funds under the scheme were made amid claims that there are no records and accountability of how close to US$3 billion was disbursed by the government.