Explain Your Seven Houses, Lodge: ZACC Swoops On VID Officer
The Zimbabwe Anti-Corruption Commission (ZACC) yesterday swooped on a senior Vehicle Inspectorate Department (VID) officer deployed to Beitbridge and ordered him to explain how he became a business tycoon owning seven houses, a lodge and seven vehicles across the country.
At the same time, he is forbidden to sell or dispose of the listed properties until he has presented an acceptable explanation.
Mr Knox Ozipatele Mutatabikwa, who is the second-in-charge at VID Beitbridge, says he has built up his business empire starting with the payouts he and his wife received from previous employers, and reinvesting the profits of his A2 tobacco farm.
He said he can fulfil the order within the time-limit and satisfy ZACC that his wealth is legitimate.
A team of nine officers from ZACC visited Mr Mutatabikwa and served him with a High Court order compelling him and his wife Mrs Maonei Memory Mutatabikwa to explain the source of wealth that allowed them to create an empire of seven houses worth more than US$1,3 million, a lodge worth US$400 000 and seven vehicles worth around US$220 000.
Mr Mutatabikwa who owns Mutsa Lodge situated at Khwalu 1 suburb, has 15 days to respond to ZACC with the proof of funds and proof of acquisition.
According to the High Court Order dated 23 December 2023 and signed by High Court Judge Justice Chikowero, the Mutatabikwas must furnish ZACC with all the details about the acquisition of the property and provide supporting documents.
In terms of the detailed order the two have to each give a sworn statement to the head of ZACC Asset Forfeiture and Recovery Unit at 1872 Betterment Close, Mount Pleasant Business Park Harare within 15 days of being served with the order, and explaining how they obtained 13 listed properties, and in particular how they paid for the assets, and producing all supporting documents and receipts showing proof of legitimate business and source of income for the acquisition of the property.
Some of the listed properties include houses on stand number 8622, Khwalu 1 suburb worth US$150 000 and stand 38990 Dulilvhadzimu worth US$90 000. The couple owns stand 2501 in Dulilvhadzimu Beitbridge and stand 5609 in Norton each worth US$150 000.
Other houses were built on house 8621 Khwalu suburb, Beitbridge and a house built on stand 207 Adlyn in Harare worth US$300 000.
“The other properties include Mutsa Guest lodge on stand 8659 Khwalu 1 suburb, Beitbridge with an estimated value of US$400 000 and another house on stand 8547 in the same suburb with an estimated value of US$400 000,” says the court order.
The couple must also prove how they raised money to buy a Toyota Allion, Toyota Corolla, Mazda Premacy, an Amarok, and another Toyota Allion all worth over US$220 000.
The ZACC investigating officer can physically enter the premises and check on the vehicles.
In his response yesterday, Mr Mutatabikwa said he had nothing to hide and that it was not the first time he had been under investigation.
He said in 2004 another team from the Reserve Bank of Zimbabwe (RBZ) conducted investigations and concluded that his business was legit.
Mr Mutatabikwa said he used his package from PG Industries where he used to work as a manager before joining the VID to buy the lodge from the late farmer and businessman, Mr Fanuel Mulaudzi.
“Concerning the house in Adlyn and the Amarok, these are part of her package from FC Motors where she used to work as an executive director and we have all the documents,” he said.
“You will also note that I am an A2 farmer in the Makwiro area where I grow and sell tobacco and the proceeds from there have helped me invest in the property business. The prices of those properties have been inflated.
The closure of major hotels in the town and the Covid-19 lockdown were a boost for my lodge and I have managed to re-invest the money buying housing stands and developing them into houses. I have been through this road before and I have no fear. So, I will respond to the court order within the given time frame.”
Such orders are usually easy to satisfy if the owners of assets or businesses have acquired these legitimately as income normally has to be declared to the tax authorities, and business records have to be kept for this purpose.
Inherited property, or as in this case payouts from previous employers, would also be on record. It is only when tainted money is involved that it becomes difficult to explain how a business was built up. Herald