Central Intelligence Organisation (CIO) deputy director of counterintelligence Kizito Gweshe is in the spotlight following accusations in a case before a Harare court that he abused his position to victimise, cause the arrest and detention of a Gweru man who stood in the way of his business.
The case, involving land in Gweru named Christmas Gift, has drawn in the National Social Security Authority (NSSA). Also involved are businessman Wilford Nyambo and a Portuguese businessman, Roger Barbosa De Sa. The dispute also involves top government officials.
The NSSA has been trying to buy the property to build a low-density residential complex and demarcate commercial stands.
The court heard that, years back, Nyambo bought 15% of Christmas Gift from De Sa for $100 000. Another investor, Anthony Hickey, bought 30% of the property.
Nyambo later attempted to convert his 15% into housing stands that he attempted to sell. De Sa and Gweshe, who is a director of Christmas Gift, then laid a charge of fraud against Nyambo, saying he owned nothing of the 1 200-hectare property. That case was heard in Gweru, and Nyambo lost. He is appealing in Harare, saying the trial was politicised.
De Sa, together with Gweshe, also allegedly tried to sell all of Christmas Gift to the NSSA. They did not mention the fact that Nyambo and Hickey were also investors.
After Nyambo got wind of the offer to the NSSA, he wrote to the authority through his lawyer, Norman Bvekwa, asking that the NSSA withhold a $7.4-million payment for Christmas Gift because, as a shareholder, he had not agreed to the sale.
In October 2012, Gweshe is accused of bringing about Nyambo's arrest for allegedly defrauding depositors to whom he had tried to sell stands. Nyambo was arrested and held at unknown locations for almost a week without charge.
When Nyambo's wife enquired about his whereabouts, she, too was locked up.
The harassment continued, with Nyambo's lawyer, Bvekwa, also getting arrested and being charged for misrepresentation after writing a letter to the NSSA on behalf of his client.
Gweshe also allegedly sent an SMS to a relative of his, a Ms Chikonzo, who had been approached by Nyambo's son to secure his parents' freedom.
Gweshe confirmed in court that he had sent the SMS from his cellphone, which read: "These people [Nyambo and his wife], they brought it upon themselves. If they want me to drop the charges, I need a full retraction of the misrepresentation they made to NSSA by tomorrow. He faces 16 counts of fraud. [The] sentence can be 10 years."
It also emerged during the trial that De Sa had formed an alliance with Gweshe to give him the political and state security muscle to elbow out his business partners so that he could derive sole benefit from the deal.
In Bvekwa's defence, filed by his lawyer and seen by the Mail & Guardian, the central intelligence boss is accused of abusing the criminal justice system and tormenting lawyers for doing their professional work in pursuit of his own private interests.
The extent of the politician's interest also played out in a Gweru magistrates' court last October, where Nyambo faced charges of defrauding depositors for residential stands on a Christmas Gift subdivision.
The court heard, in audio recordings played during the fraud trial, the details of which are emerging only now, De Sa reassuring Nyambo that he should not worry because he had brought on board "the president's office, the CIO, this guy Max Gweshe" to sort things out, because the governor of the Midlands province, Jason Machaya, an unidentified "big boss of the police" and local government minister Ignatius Chombo were in "cahoots to steal the land [Christmas Gift] from us".
In another audio recording, De Sa confirms to Nyambo and his wife that they are shareholders. "I just want to tell you, my sister, I would never do that to you [cheat on the deal]. I don't want anything that's yours. Whatever is there, 15% is yours."
Sources close to the case this week said that the CIO had instituted an internal investigation to probe the extent of Gweshe's involvement, and the allegations of harassment and possible abuse of citizens.
A ruling is expected next week.