A little known divorce case presided over by Justice Garainesu Mawadze in 2012 has become a source of evidence to support allegations of corruption in the US$200 m Reserve Bank Farm Mechanisation Programme.
The almost forgotten case was dusted out of the archives by prominent UK-based lawyer Alex Magaisa at the weekend and he used various findings by the Judge to nail Government on the allegations of corruption.
High profile Government officials, Zanu PF politicians, judges, top military and police officers were loaned farming equipment by RBZ ranging between US$20 000 and US$0,5m per person and the total debt of US$200m was later taken over by the State by transferring the burden onto the taxpayer.
Justice Mawadze made the ruling on the divorce case between Ruzivo and Chipo Musvosvi who married in Highfield in 1987 and divorced in 2012. Some of the property brought before the Judge for the division was a tractor and a plough.
Mawadze established in his findings that the tractor and the plough belonged to the Reserve Bank. Ruzivo had brought papers before the Judge to prove that he got the tractor and plough through a loan from the bank and he could therefore not share the property with the estranged wife since it was still the property of RBZ because the loan had not yet been paid for.
However, Government, beneficiaries of the controversial scheme and former Reserve Bank Governor Gideon Gono have over the last two weeks strenuously argued that equipment distributed under the RBZ Scheme was never a loan but a grant which beneficiaries were not supposed to pay back.
Magaisa and many anti-corruption activists argue that the equipment was given as a loan and beneficiaries are required to pay back and relieve poor taxpayers of the burden of the multimillion-dollar debt.
In his ruling, Justice Mawadze clearly concluded that beneficiaries of the scheme had taken loans and were required to pay back the money to the Reserve Bank. He said, “The plaintiff in his evidence indicated that the property was loaned to him by RBZ. The terms and conditions were that RBZ would advise the plaintiff of the value of the tractor and the plough after which the plaintiff will start to make payments.
“The property can only change ownership from RBZ to him after he would have paid the agreed price.”
Using the ruling, Magaisa in his weekend article said the divorce case quashed any arguments that the mechanization programme was not a loan scheme. He, therefore, insisted that there was no moral or legal basis for those who received the equipment to refuse to pay.
Further, Magaisa said that there are exhibits that accompanied the plaintiff’s papers which clearly showed he had taken a loan.
The exhibit is general terms and conditions of the loan agreement signed between Ruzivo and Fiscort (Pvt) Limited representing RBZ, said Magaisa.
Magaisa also argued that the Farm Mechanisation Scheme was corrupt because while the beneficiaries were supposed to be new farmers, there are people who did not own any piece of land who benefitted. He said that Justice Mawadze established in his findings that Ruzivo got a tractor and a plough even though he did not have any land.
The equipment that the plaintiff got from RBZ was moved to his father’s farm because he himself did not have land.
“It is common cause that the tractor and plough were acquired by the plaintiff (husband) from the Reserve Bank of Zimbabwe through the Farm Mechanisation Programme in 2007. While both parties admitted that they don’t own any farm the plaintiff nonetheless acquired the tractor and the plough which he says are being used at his parents’ farm,” read Justice Mawadze’s ruling.
Magaisa also used the divorce case findings to prove that there was an abuse of public property. He described the fact that for five years RBZ did not make a follow-up on the loans or give value to the loaned equipment as a clear case of abuse of public property.
“The terms and conditions were that RBZ would advise the plaintiff of the value of the tractor and the plough after which the plaintiff will start to make payments. This process has not started despite that the plaintiff has been using the property for five years from 2007,” read Justice Mawadze’s ruling.