BULAWAYO – Vice President Phelekezela Mphoko has been sucked into a dispute between Bulk Cash and Carry Wholesale (BCCW) and one of its employees who has made a report to the police, accusing the company of externalising foreign currency, the Daily News can report.
The allegations, which constitute a serious crime in Zimbabwe under the Money Laundering and Proceeds of Crime Act (Chapter 9:24), are contained in an affidavit lodged by BCCW’s operations manager, Oga Chafausipo, who was suspended from the company early this year.
Chafausipo had been employed by the company for 16 years.
In his signed affidavit submitted to investigating officers at Bulawayo Central Headquarters on February 17, 2017, Chafausipo makes serious allegations of externalisation against BCCW, which is in the business of repackaging basic
commodities such as rice, flour and cooking oil before reselling them to retailers in Zimbabwe’s second city.
He claims the company, which dismissed the allegations in their entirety this week, is involved in externalisation of funds, smuggling of goods, tax evasion and sale of substandard or expired goods.
National police spokesperson Charity Charamba confirmed to the Daily News yesterday that investigations were underway.
“The matter is still under investigation. It is being handled by the fraud department. The police need to be thorough in their investigations as we need to build a case that is beyond reasonable doubt,” she said.
“We heard the Pakistani (businessman) was out of the country but the investigations are continuing. Investigations take time; when you investigate you need to be smart (about) the areas to get information. And we will also be expecting Chafausipo to present himself to the police,” added Charamba.
Bulawayo provincial police spokesperson, Precious Simango, also confirmed receiving the affidavit from Chafausipo in February although he could not give details.
“I can confirm that we received the affidavit but unfortunately I cannot give you details,” Simango said.
Chafausipo, who alleges to have been suspended from BCCW after he questioned why his salary had been cut, alleges, however, that he witnessed firsthand on two separate occasions how over $8 million was separately externalised.
“ . . . I had a trip to Botswana with . . . on 14/10/14 on the pretext that we were travelling for business . . . whilst at the border, I was shocked to see the guy declaring $4 which was stashed in clothes that were in a monarch,” he claimed.
Chafausipo further claimed that in November 2014 and February 2016, using the same modus operandi they took out of the country $2,7 million and $2 million respectively, the money which was said to be then banked at an Islamic financial institution.
“The company has been ably assisted to continue its illicit activities after successfully recruiting some government officials into the play,” Chafausipo said, while giving names of officials from the Zimbabwe Revenue Authority and the Criminal Investigations Department officials.
“I have it on good authority that (George) Mlala was recently paid $35 000 for onward transmission to honourable Vice President Phelekezela Mphoko for the sole purpose of no interference or protection of the company,” further claimed Chafausipo.
“I have since approached the Honourable Vice President Mphoko over the issue and he denied receiving the ransom from George Mlala. Surprisingly, George Mlala also denied receiving the money but vowed to protect the company directors before the Honourable Vice President,” reads part of the affidavit.
Contacted for comment, the minister of State in Mphoko’s office, Tabetha Kanengoni Malinga, said she was yet to discuss the matter with the Vice President as he was out of office.
The Daily News first contacted Kanengoni Malinga on Tuesday, and made a follow-up on Wednesday, but she said she was yet to discuss the matter with her boss as he was still out of office.
The director of the wholesale, Imran Shahzad, dismissed the allegations saying they had been made out of malice by a jilted employee.
Shahzad said he has since lodged a complaint for criminal defamation against Chafausipo.
“He is bitter man after he lost his job. These are all lies. I have cases against him that I have since opened with the police. I opened a criminal defamation (case) against him two months ago with the police fraud section,” Shahzad said.
“It’s all a joke. Honestly, how can someone carry all that kind of money as he claims. If so, what mode of transport can one use to carry such an amount of money, it’s never easy.
“Besides, do you think Botswana will allow me to carry all that money he is talking about? That’s impossible. But anyway, since he is bitter he is just doing all that to soil my image and my business that is why I have decided to make it a police case so that they can deal with him,” he added.
On Tuesday, the 51-year-old Chafausipo said he stood by his claims and was willing to see who would disapprove his facts.
War Veterans minister Tshinga Dube was the first to make the sensational claims against Mlala early this month as they continued to haggle over the leadership of the former liberation war fighters.
Dube accused Mlala of working with an unnamed Pakistani businessman to externalise foreign currency and that he had evidence to support his claims.
But Mlala dismissed the allegations after being contacted for comment.
The war veteran said he has since instructed his lawyers to respond to the allegations though he had not seen the said affidavit.
“I have heard of such nonsense and I have since instructed my lawyers to attend to those allegations. If Chafausipo is the one who is raising such allegations in an affidavit that he has signed himself mentioning my name in it, so it means I also have to include his name in the list of those who should face the lawsuit that is being prepared by my lawyers,” Mlala said.
“Those are just baseless and misleading allegations but let’s leave it to the courts.”