By Pauline Hurungudo
The Tendai Biti-led Parliamentary Public Accounts Committee (Pac) yesterday accused Zimbabwe National Roads Administration (Zinara) management of attempting to frustrate the committee’s efforts to unravel shocking misappropriations of funds.
This comes after a scathing 2017 Grant Thornton forensic audit exposed financial rot in the organisation, fingering Zinara management and other external individuals from the previous and current governments to have profiteered massively from unlawful tenders.
The committee had summoned the Zinara management including chief executive officer Mathlene Mujokoro, who squirmed under tough probe on issues pertaining to the damning report, which had revealed that millions had been misappropriated through tender flouting and nepotism.
The internal forensic audit had exposed massive financial abuse at the parastatal, including payment of $71 million and R31 million to contractors cherry-picked without going to tender, among many other irregularities.
The Zinara chief shirked responsibility over the report.
“We sense an attempt to frustrate this committee on the part of the Zinara management and this is also reflected by your claim that you don’t have this report.
“We do not believe your claim that you don’t have a copy of that report, we also do not believe that you took sufficient measure to ensure that you had the report before this meeting,” thundered Biti, who handed over a copy of the report to Mujokoro before instructing her to make copies for her management.
Biti said that Pac had noted that there were attempts to stifle attempts to unearth massive embezzlement of funds in Zinara.
He also claimed that Zinara was exerting undue influence on Parliament support staff in a bid to scuttle the summoning of Univern, which was supposed to have accompanied Zinara.
“There is this unhappy feeling that Zinara is so powerful, individuals in Zinara are so powerful that they are doing everything to stop and frustrate this enquiry.
“We want to assure Zinara and those that are doing so that we are unrelenting, that we will get to the bottom of the truth and that we will present a full report to Parliament in due course,” bellowed Biti.
Pac adjourned the meeting to April 5 saying it was giving Mujokoro and her team sufficient time to go through the report and come back for cross-examination.
The Zinara board and the Transport minister are to be summoned at a later date while Univern management and Zinara’s former administration director Precious Murove are to accompany Zinara management on Friday for the hearing.
“Murove, as you know was key in the transactions that are disclosed in this report with regards to special projects in particular,” Biti said.
“It is Murove who wrote most of those letters that went to the contractors that carried out special projects against the provisions of the Procurement Act which requires that all tenders, all supplies have to be subjected to a competitive tender.” DailyNews