Tich Mataz arrested on Reserve Bank fraud allegations

HARARE – Former radio DJ and television personality Tichafa Matambanadzo, populary known as Tic Mataz has become the latest Zanu PF celebrity to be arrested on allegations of defrauding the Reserve Bank of Zimbabwe through Gideon Gono's discredited quasi activities of BACOSSI and tractor procurement.

This follows another arrest earlier in the week of Bank Head of Farm mechanisation program, Gospel singer, disgraced Pastor Elias Musakwa, a close relative of the Bank Governor.  

These are early signs that the new Finance Minister Tendai Biti is slowly flexing his muscle amid reports of massive whistle blowing from bank employees. 

Allegations are that Tichafa Matambanadzo was contracted by the central bank to provide hampers for the BACOSSI program (Basic Commodities Supply Side Intervention) but he failed to deliver after taking payment.

Due to his popularity, Mataz had just been re-engaged as a radio presenter to ZBC after a long absence.

The government last year embarked on an abortive programme to distribute groceries to mostly rural communities.  

 

The programme was widely criticized for committing scarce foreign currency into sourcing for basic commodities from outside the country for resale at highly reduced prices to less privileged families.  

 

Top government and businesspersons with close links to Zanu PF were granted licences to supply the goods while a great many of corrupt officials also benefited ahead of the intended beneficiaries.  

 

The money-spinning programme, also allowed chiefs and headman in rural areas to identify eligible households.  

This allowed the traditional leaders to exclude known Movement fro Democratic Change (MDC) supporters.

Tich Mataz was arrested, together with his business partner Raymond Tendai Chamba, son of the late legendary radio personality and PR practioner Ephraim Chamba, and the two are facing allegations of defrauding the Reserve Bank of Zimbabwe.

Mataz and Chamba (38) were detained at Harare Central Police Station on Wednesday and were still in police custody yesterday evening as the matter had been referred to the Criminal Investigation Department’s fraud section.

Both the police and Mataz’s lawyer confirmed the arrests.

According to police spokesman Inspector James Sabau, Mataz and Chamba — who are the directors of a company called Family Choice (Subvented Solutions) are facing charges of failing to deliver food hampers to RBZ, under the Bacossi programme, who made an advance payment last year.

"Yes I can confirm that Tichafa Matambanadzo and his partner, Raymond Tendai Chamba are here (in cells) at Harare Central. Their case has since been transferred to the CID fraud section where further investigations are being carried out.

"They (Mataz and Chamba) are expected to appear in court soon once the investigations are complete.

"The two are directors of a company called Family Choice (Subverted Solutions) and were dealing in groceries. On 3 November last year the two were contracted by RBZ to supply food hampers.

"The hampers contained salt, sugar, cooking oil, soap, mealie meal among others and they were supposed to supply hampers totalling 1551 for the Bacossi programme.

"They received an advance payment for the hampers but they failed to supply the goods and RBZ tried to locate them and failed until they then reported the case to the police leading to the arrests," explained Sabau.

Mataz’s lawyer, Wellington Thomas Pasipanodya of Manase and Manase, also confirmed the arrests last night adding that it was a civil matter and they were trying to clarify the matter with both the RBZ and police.

"No charges have been leveled against Mataz yet but we just want to sort things out. Mataz was a director with one company — Subvented (Pvt) Limited — which was responsible for sourcing Bacossi goods for the RBZ. They sourced goods from October last year and RBZ was paying them in Zimbabwean dollars which was quickly hit by inflation and the money just became valueless," Pasipanodya said.

He argued that the police could not sue Mataz in his personal capacity but the company — Subvented (Pvt) Limited — which was responsible for sourcing the Bacossi goods.

"Mataz was only a director so it is an issue that has to do with the company and not in his personal capacity."

Last year Tich Mataz helped to record a birthday song for Robert Mugabe when he celebrated his 84th birthday.

Tich’s Matambanadzo family is heavily connected to Zanu PF politicians.

Some time last year Tich tried to bring US-based R&B group Dru-hill to Zimbabwe as part of the Zimbabwe Tourism Authority CEO Karokoga Kaseke’s bullish government sponsored obsession with high profile American musicians to refelect business-as-usual in the beleaguered nation. The deal fell through and no explanation was given.

In 2005 Tich’s brother Tendai Matambanadzo, a banker, and Itai Marchi, a Zanu-PF director of Security, and long-serving Zimbabwe diplomat Godfrey Dzvairo were given sentences raging between five to six years in jail, after they were convicted of breaching the Official Secrets Act.

In 2007, the embattled DJ lied to a South African newspaper Sunday World that he had landed what he described as a plum job, which was going to earn him R5 million as Swaziland’s 2010 World Cup consultant.

Tich claimed that he had negotiated the deal with His Majesty King Mswati III when he had stayed in that country with his Kenyan wife.

"My job will be to basically advise the King and produce programmes for radio and TV aimed at marketing Swaziland ahead of the 2010 World Cup", claimed Tich.

However Swaziland Minister of Enterprises and Employment Lutfo Ddlamini who is the Chairman of the country’s 2010 World Cup went ballistic.

"I want to warn this South African newspaper and that Zimbabwean guy that we won’t tolerate such defamatory and derogatory comments about the King.

We have no contract with that boy, perhaps he signed one in his dreams and I’m very angry at this. How can we sign such a contract with someone not allowed into South Africa the country’s immigration authorities?

Tich was deported from South Africa in 2001 over allegations that he used false identity documents.

Earlier in the week Elias Musakwa, a Gospel Singer of the Ngaavongwe crew was arrested on fraudulent activities at the Reserve Bank where he is employed as a Divisional Head.

Musakwa is head of the Reserve Bank of Zimbabwe Farm Mechanisation program and he is a close relative of Central Bank Governor Gideon Gono.

Cops found a 180HP tractor, implements, a Prado and a RAV4 at his two story 12 bed room Mansion in Borrowdale Brooke and a Hammer was found hidden at a relative’s garage.

In the last Parliamentary elections Elias Musakwa represented Zanu PF in Bikita and lost to MDC candidate. At some point during the elections the Pastor was caught trying to stuff ballot boxes but foiled by alert MDC agents.

The disgraced gospel musician-cum-politician confirmed his "Zanu PF apologist" tag by producing the late Eliot Manyika’s propaganda album entitled Zimbabwe 2005, which featured "Nora" and "Zanu ndeyeropa".

Musakwa is the director of Ngaavongwe Records and also sits on the board of the State-controlled Broadcasting Authority of Zimbabwe (BAZ), a position through which he influenced DJs to give his music more air-play.

When Gono was Chairman of the Zimbabwe Broadcasting Corporation he had a hand in Pastor Musakwa’s appointment into the board.

Ngaavongwe Records was formerly known as Gramma Records, the country’s legendary recording studio which fell into the hands of Musakwa and his former business partner the late former Airforce Commander Josiah Tungamirai.

Pastor Musakwa has provided Public Address systems at most Zanu PF rallies in recent years.