Zimbabwe president’s son embroiled in multimillion Covid-19 supplies scandal

Collins Mnangagwa

A Covid-19 supplies corruption scandal has erupted in Zimbabwe and placed President Emmerson Mnangagwa’s son Collins and a close friend of the family at the centre of graft allegations.

So serious are the allegations that Zimbabwe police have arrested Delish Nguwaya, Collin’s friend.

Collins and Nguwaya are the key suspects in the R17m ($1m) personal protective equipment (PPE) case while the president’s top bodyguard, Valdano Brown, won lucrative contracts to supply Covid-19 equipment to the ministry of health without going through a competitive bidding process.

The two companies allegedly belong to a group of firms believed to be connected to Zimbabwe’s first family which have scored contracts with the government during the virus outbreak.

Nguwaya, 36, was remanded in custody and was expected to appear in court on Monday for a bail hearing after being charged with two counts of fraud.

Just last week, Zimbabwe’s first family was again sucked into a legal quagmire after the country’s anti-corruption body confirmed that it was investigating Collins in another matter.

The country’s top anti-corruption official confirmed the corruption busting unit had launched a probe into Collins and his business partner Nguwaya for alleged interference with the judiciary in the neighboring country.

A complaint against the pair was lodged by Johannesburg-based businessman Frank Buyanga, alleging that Collins and Nguwaya had compromised the judge who was presiding over his long-running cross border custody battle.

The Sandton based businessman released a hard-hitting complaint last week alleging that some members of the “first family members were a criminal cabal.”

In his complaint  to the Zimbabwe Anti-Corruption Commission (ZACC) and the Judicial Service Commission, Buyanga registered his displeasure over the first family’s alleged interference in his ongoing custody wrangle with his former lover Chantelle Muteswa.

The businessman has been fighting for his four-year-old son in a bitter court battle that pitted him against the child’s mother, Muteswa.

According to Buyanga Muteswa’s relationship with Collins is playing a critical role in deciding the fate of their child. He has accused the President’s son of influencing judges; allegations that Muteswa has refuted.

ZACC chairperson Justice Loice Matanda Moyo says the matter ” is being referred to our investigation unit.”

She writes to Buyanga in a letter dated June 1: “We acknowledge receiving previous letters referred to therein. Your matter was referred to our investigation department. Be advised that the present complaint is again being referred to our investigation department.”

The investigation against the President’s son comes on the back of confirmation by the Zimbabwe government spokesperson, Nick Mangwana, that some judges were being bribed. “Fact: We have a coterie of very corrupt lawyers who buy our, investigating officers, prosecutors, magistrates, and judges. They adulterate our whole justice delivery system. They are not above the law they are supposed to uphold. They help derail our anti-corruption fight,” Mangwana wrote on Twitter.

In his complaint, Buyanga told the ZACC and JSC how Justice Jacob Manzunzu has been mishandling his custody matter including allegations that he had been communicating with some members of the Mnangagwa family.

He claimed Justice Manzunzu, who allegedly issued an adverse judgment against him in 2019, had been phoned at least 15 times by a member of the “Mnangagwa family” before the delivery of the judgment.

“I have been furnished with evidence that one Collins Mnangagwa residing at Elshaddai Road in Glen Lorne Harare has been assisting Chantelle Muteswa in her shenanigans. As he is the son of the president (Emmerson Mnangagwa), I decided not to act against him as the president is an old friend of mine and would rather keep evidence of this abuse of office for a later stage,” Buyanga wrote.

As the ZACC begins its investigation on the matter, the businessman has penned a 79-page letter to President Mnangagwa demanding the national leader to stop First Lady Auxillia Mnangagwa and his sons from meddling in his child custody battle.

In the strongly-worded letter, Buyanga says Mnangagwa family members should desist from conducting “guerilla tactics” on him.

“Members of your (Mnangagwa) family may seemingly control the country, but they certainly will not control destiny. Your Excellency, there is a lot of interference from external forces in my custody matter and I am not receiving the protection of the law,” writes the businessman.

He said the interference is  impacting on the rule of law and the vision President Mnangagwa has for a better Zimbabwe.

“ It’s a pity that with all the hard work you have done for your family name, there remain individuals within your confidence who seek to reduce the integrity of your standing,” reads the letter.

He continues; “It may be too late to turn the ship around at this stage especially since some members even raised their voice against members of the military. At this stage, members of your family may seemingly control the country, but they certainly will not control destiny.”