By Mutsa Makuvaza
SOCIAL media influencer and businessman Acie Lumumba might be willing to take back his words denigrating graduates from Zimbabwean universities, after all.
Lumumba, whose full name is William Gerald Lumumba Mutumanje, last week said Zimbabwean universities produce useless graduates who are not fit for purpose, but a South African university graduate has just proved more useless to Lumumba by allegedly conniving with a workmate to steal US$189,000 from Lumumba’s registered petroleum business.
31-year-old Tatenda Maredza, a University of Cape Town graduate, was arrested yesterday together with her workmate Malcolm Dondo (26) for stealing from their employer.
Tatenda attended high school at Queen Elizabeth High in Harare and proceed to the South African university in 2008, it has emerged.
Sources at Platinum Fuels told the Zimbabwe Voice that Lumumba personally headhunted Tatenda where she was working in Cape Town and made her his company’s operations and logistics manager, giving her access to loads of money involved in fuel procurement and sales.
Malcolm was a sales agent for the company, Zimbabwe Voice heard.
Tatenda, who turned 31 on 20 September last year, has previously interacted widely with Lumumba on social media and shared some of his posts.
When Lumumba posted on Facebook that “Nothing in the world is more dangerous than sincere ignorance and conscientious stupidity,” a statement by Dr. Martin Luther King Jr., Tatenda shared it with an Amen!
The mother of one, who is said to be so much in love with whiskey and Friday outings, was also in close circles with Lumumba’s friends including the late MDC Alliance member Patson Dzamara, who succumbed to cancer last year.
“My only picture with Patson Dzamara, the first day we met tikarowha tese. You were an amazing person so full of life and positive vibes. I remember the day we stopped along Samora Machel Ave when u saw me and we had a chill session there.
“We always promised each other a date you with ur fanta me with my whiskey. Lol you did threaten to drink a beer one day.
“I will always cherish you, your passion and your commitment to a better Zimbabwe. Go well Cde, we loved you dearly ❤,” Tatenda remembered Dzamara in August following his death.
“It will be a huge betrayal to Acie if Tatenda is convicted,” a Platinum Fuels employee told the Zimbabwe Voice Tuesday morning as Tatenda and co-accused were expected at court.
“I don’t know much about Malcolm, but I know Tatenda was in good books with and had the full trust of Acie and the other directors.”
Dissing local graduates last week, Lumumba said he has hired over 100 local graduates for different positions in his companies whose performances left a lot to be desired.
Lumumba further asserted that the best local graduates come from the National University of Science and Technology (NUST) while those from the University of Zimbabwe (UZ) need retraining.
He mocked graduates from the Midlands State University (MSU) saying that it seems as if they are taught to smoke Shisha pipes and bedroom matters.
“After hiring 100+ graduates across multiple positions I can authoritatively say Zimbabwe produces useless graduates.
“Useless not as an attack, but as a concern, there is close to nothing you can use them for. NUST has the best crop, UZ you have to retrain, MSU mbodza dzega dzega!” he said Saturday on Twitter.
“MSU kunongodzidziswa chifodya cheshisha chiya ne zvemumagumbeze chete kuya. Dai yaitaura mibhedha iye Man gesturing ok. Lol”
Yesterday, Tatenda and Malcolm appeared at the Harare Magistrates’ Court charged with theft of trust property, corruptly concealing a transaction from a principal and unlawful dealing in petroleum.
They were not asked to plead to the charges when they appeared before magistrate Barbra Mateko, who remanded them in custody to today for bail application.
Allegations are that in November last year, Platinum Fuels received US$244,780 worth of fuel from COMOIL and the two were instructed to pay US$212,025. However, they connived to pay US$202,125 and failed to account for US$9,900.
The State papers say during the same period, Platinum Fuels received 60,000 litres of diesel worth US$61,000 which they all sold and converted the money to their own use. They also failed to account for 93,000 litres of fuel worth US$96,720 received from DA Motors.
Furthermore, Tatenda and Malcolm made transactions for 43,000 litres of fuel which was not accounted for.
In total, the two failed to account for 153,000 litres of fuel worth US$158,520 as well as US$30,500 in hard cash.