Presidential Goat Scheme scandal deepens: Mike Chimombe and Moses Mpofu to languish in prison longer


The legal battle surrounding the alleged US$7 million fraud linked to the Presidential Goat Scheme took another dramatic turn yesterday, with Harare businessmen Mike Chimombe and Moses Mpofu remanded in custody for another week. The pair, accused of siphoning funds from the government initiative, will remain behind bars until next Tuesday, when the magistrate is expected to deliver her ruling on their bail application.

The courtroom buzzed with anticipation as Defence counsel Mr Arshiel Mugiya and Mr Tapson Dzvetero concluded their cross-examination of the lead investigating officer, Mr Henry Chapwanya, from the Zimbabwe Anti-Corruption Commission (ZACC). The defence team meticulously probed the ZACC’s case, seeking to highlight any inconsistencies or weaknesses in the evidence presented.

The State, represented by Mr Anesu Chirenje, is vehemently opposed to granting bail, arguing that the accused pose a significant flight risk and could potentially interfere with witnesses. The prosecution contends that Chimombe and Mpofu, if released, could disrupt the ongoing investigations and potentially intimidate those involved in the case.

“The accused have already interacted with some of the witnesses during the tender negotiations with the Ministry of Lands, Agriculture, Water, Fisheries and Rural Development,” stated Mr Chapwanya, highlighting the potential for witness tampering. “Their release could undermine the integrity of the investigation and the pursuit of justice.”

The State’s case hinges on the allegation that Chimombe and Mpofu forged documents to secure the tender for supplying 600,000 goats under the Presidential Goat Scheme, a flagship project initiated by President Mnangagwa to bolster Zimbabwe’s agricultural sector and contribute to the nation’s economic growth.

The prosecution presented a compelling case, highlighting the gravity of the alleged fraud and its potential impact on the scheme’s success. “The accused, by their actions, have disrupted the Presidential Goat Scheme, a project crucial to President Mnangagwa’s vision of achieving an upper middle-income economy by 2030,” stated Mr Chapwanya.

The ZACC officers also expressed concerns about the potential for public unrest if the accused were released on bail. “There is a high likelihood of protests on the streets, which could undermine peace and security in the nation, especially as the country prepares to host the SADC Summit in the coming weeks,” said Mr Chapwanya.

The prosecution further presented a range of documentary evidence, including a memo circulated on social media by the accused, stating that they had received US$4 million equivalent from the government for the project. This memo, along with a purportedly fake NSSA clearance certificate and a forged compliance certificate in the name of Blackdeck Pvt Ltd, formed the basis of the State’s argument against bail.

The prosecution also submitted minutes recorded by the Ministry of Lands during their meeting with Blackdeck Pvt Ltd and Mr Chapwanya’s affidavit, further bolstering their case against the accused.

The court proceedings have captivated the nation, with many Zimbabweans closely following the developments. The Presidential Goat Scheme, launched with great fanfare, aimed to empower rural communities and revitalise the livestock sector. The alleged fraud, if proven, would be a severe blow to the scheme’s credibility and could erode public trust in government initiatives.

The defence team, however, maintains that the accused are innocent and have been unfairly targeted. They argue that the evidence presented by the State is circumstantial and lacks sufficient weight to justify denying bail.

“My clients are innocent until proven guilty,” stated Mr Mugiya. “We believe that the State’s case is weak and that the accused should be granted bail pending trial.”

The court will reconvene next Tuesday, July 16, to deliver its ruling on the bail application.

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