BULAWAYO-BASED members of the Zimbabwe Pastors Empowerment Fraternal (ZPEF) have threatened to picket President Robert Mugabe’s offices in protest over a Harare pastor whom they accused of swindling them of over $40 000 after promising to secure them 27 ex-Japanese vehicles duty-free.
By LINDA CHINOBVA
The pastors led by their fraternity’s national chairperson Munyaradzi Pundo held a Press conference in Bulawayo last Thursday, where they resolved to engage the First Family, claiming Nicholas Mavondo had duped them.
They accused Mavondo, a leader of the Grace Awake Ministries, based in Harare of using the name of the party and the President to swindle them of their money after they failed to get the cars as promised.
But Mavondo yesterday denied the theft charges and accused the clergymen of seeking to divert attention from a pending police case where he has reported them for defrauding fellow pastors of their cash in the scheme.
“We were invited at some time to Mazowe to congratulate First Lady Grace Mugabe following her election as Women’s League boss and we filled two Zupco buses,” Pundo said.
Pundo said at the Mazowe meeting the pastors told Mavondo about their intention to secure vehicles for members of the fraternity.
“We realised that the pastors need cars and, hence, we came up with a car scheme which is now problematic to benefit us. We agreed that one had to pay an administration fee of $215 to be party to the scheme. A lot of people around the country paid for the car scheme,” he said, adding the scheme which started in 2013 had 419 pastors.
Mavondo is alleged to have promised to assist them to secure the cars without paying duty by facilitating their meeting with Mugabe upon payment of $40 000.
“He told us to inform him when the cars had arrived in Chirundu and demanded money for the processing of 27 cars duty-free provided we gave him $40 000 so that he could introduce us to the First Family and make the transportation process easier,” Pundo said.
“About $10 000 was paid through EcoCash and through the bank account while the remaining $30 000 was paid in cash. He failed to take us to the President and took us to a certain office which he claimed was the same as that of the President.”
Pundo said Mavondo later told them to come and collect the cars, but said the duty had not been paid.
“He said we were causing unnecessary noise and that he was no longer interested in dealing with us. He then said he was now going to charge us for the storage of the cars at his premises and threatened to sell the cars. We looked for a lawyer and made an urgent High Court application which was dismissed as not urgent.”
He said Mavondo later told the clergymen that they would not get their vehicles because they were linked to former Vice-President Joice Mujuru’s People First project.
“We heard on radio that he bought cars and he is distributing them to other people outside Bulawayo. We are appealing to the Zanu PF officials to assist us win back our cars. He thinks because he knows people who are in power he can steal from us. Who doesn’t know people with influential positions?”
Zanu PF Bulawayo city centre district chairperson, Joe Reed Chiyangwa, accused Mavhondo of being a bogus member.
“It is unfortunate that we still have characters like Mavondo, who rejoice in stealing from other people. This is a serious issue and we will see to it that you will get back your cars. The government is fighting tirelessly to stop corruption, but here is someone perpetuating it,” Chiyangwa said. “I also condemn the fact that Mavondo said he was going to facilitate a meeting with the First Family. Who is he after all? And does one has to pay to see the President? This is a crime.”
Contacted for comment, Mavondo said he had filed a criminal case under IR number 011 852 against Pundo and his team.
“If truly I was a thief, in normal circumstances this could be a police case and I would be now in police custody,” he said. “They are making up these allegations because they know that they have a case to answer. The only reason is that I started working with pastors in Bulawayo and they stole money contributed by 534 pastors, a case which I have already reported to the police. We opened the case against them and you can call my lawyer Mr (Charles) Chinyama he has full details of the cases.”
Mavondo said some pastors had contributed $215 while others had contributed $1 500 which was squandered by the same people who were accusing him of stealing their money.
Chinyama declined to comment saying the matter was in the courts and police were still investigating it.
“If it is the case which I represented Mavondo on, it is in the court and police are investigating it. I do not want to prejudice police investigations, I have no comment,”Chinyama said.