By Tinashe Makichi
The Zimbabwe Anti-Corruption Commission (ZACC) has summoned top Zesa Holdings officials as it investigates allegations of abuse of office and corruption at the power utility.
The investigation by the anti-graft body comes after it cleared Zesa executive chairman Sydney Gata in four of the six charges he was facing paving the way for his return to the power utility.
Gata was suspended for one-month alongside other board members to pave the way for investigations into alleged abuse of office.
Business Times heard this week that head of risk and audit, Obson Matunja was summoned and was questioned by mid-morning yesterday.
It is understood that Zesa finance director Eliab Chikwenhere was also questioned although he denied he was summoned by the anti-graft body. It is understood that former Zesa public relations manager Fullard Gwasira has also been questioned by ZACC.
Zacc spokesperson John Makamure could neither confirm nor deny the summoning of the Zesa officials but noted that there were investigations going on.
“I am not denying or confirming their presence at ZACC. We have so many investigations going on at the same time. So it is impossible to keep tabs on each and every investigation,” Makamure said.
The latest probe comes after Zesa fired eight top managers, demoted two and suspended three while the other is serving three months’ notice pending dismissal over malpractices picked up in the forensic audit published last year.
A number of other managers have since been transferred to posts in other provinces. Matunja, who is under investigation, was put on suspension but was recently reinstated on his previous position following an internal hearing which cleared him of any wrongdoing.
Most executives were fired, suspended or demoted over accusations of involvement in shoddy deals, ineptitude or following recommendations of a forensic audit into the operations Zesa and its subsidiaries, conducted by PriceWaterhouseCoopers (PwC).
The audit report called for disciplinary action against managers suspected to have milked the power utility of millions of dollars including misuse of resources such as fuel.
The shakeup came at a time when the power utility has been under scrutiny from the government, the sole shareholder of the company that has been reeling under heavy losses for years. The audit exposed several irregularities that cost the power utility millions of dollars amid revelations top managers were responsible for the losses.
There were allegations of out of line procurement procedures and services provided by bogus and unregistered companies prejudicing the power utility and its subsidiaries. Gata bounced back after President Emmerson Mnangagwa lifted his suspension and that of his board.
The investigations on Gata were ordered by the President on August 6, 2020 after a slew of allegations were raised against Gata by former Energy Minister Fortune Chasi. Chasi was fired in August as minister for “conduct incompatible” with President Emmerson Mnangagwa’s expectations.
Some of the allegations investigated by ZACC involved Mutare Peaking Plant Project, Intratrek Gwanda Solar Project, the conduct of Chasi in his dealings with Zesa and the conduct of the officials in the ministry of Energy in their dealings with Zesa.
ZACC also examined corporate governance at Zesa and recommended that Gata be cleared of four accusations and the other two are still going on. – Business Times.