By Nyashadzashe Ndoro
ZESA Holdings executive chairperson Sydney Gata has accused Energy minister Fortune Chasi of basing his allegations on press reports adding that he would “without delay” engage President Emmerson Mnangagwa on the way forward.
Recently, Chasi suspended Gata and ordered the Zesa Holdings board to investigate the power utility’s executive chairman for corruption.
In a letter dated 30 July, Gata accused Chasi of undermining efforts to curb corruption at the power company and of working with people being investigated for graft.
He added that Chasi’s letter directing the board to investigate him was unlawful.
“…I am now deeply involved in uprooting the ‘disturbing serious levels of corruption’ in the company. There is no doubt that the so-called allegations against me are fighting back efforts by those who have been behind the ‘disturbing serious levels of corruption.’
“In writing as you did in your letter …, you may have unwittingly fallen into the agenda of the very people I am mandated to uproot. Your letter is, therefore, with respect, an impediment to my efforts.
“Ministerial directive contrary to law. The crux of the letter … is the following sentence in its fifth paragraph ‘In this regard, you are directed, as the board, to immediately institute investigations into the allegations…’
“Stripped to the bone, this sentence records a directive by the honourable minister to the ‘board of directors.’ In what circumstances may a line minister issue directives to the board of a public entity? This is a question of law. I have been advised that under the law as provided for in the Public Entities Corporate Governance Act), this particular directive is unlawful.
“The Public Finance Management Act does not permit it either. In terms of the mandate given to me as executive chairman, I have to advise you, honourable minister, that the law must be followed to the letter. In this case, the directive is contrary to the law and cannot be acted upon,” Gata said.
He added that by not addressing the letter to a particular office of the board or company, the minister had erred because the legal channel of communication between Zesa Holdings and the minister is through the office of the executive chairman.
The Zesa executive chairman is accused of allocating for his personal use five Zesa vehicles over and above his official Mercedes Benz in addition to, among other things, spending $10 million on parties.
But Gata said the minister had simply based his allegations on press reports. He added that he would engage President Emmerson Mnangagwa on the way forward.
“It is clear from the foregoing that I respectfully take the view that your letter … ought not be the basis of the way forward between you (as the line minister) and the executive chairman. I believe this a matter that requires, on an urgent basis, the mediation role of the Office of the President and Cabinet. I will engage that mediation role without delay.
“Regrettably your letter has created a state of affairs where the board whose members are purportedly seeking to implement your directive are no longer in a position to serve the interest of the company. I am obliged to act immediately in terms of my mandate as executive chairman to protect the interest of Zesa Holdings,” added Gata.
Last week, Gata suspended eight ZESA board members who were investigating him for corruption, a directive that came from Chasi.
The ZESA board was made up of Ashok Chakravati, Rosemary Siyachitema, Caroline Mathonsi, James Muzangaza, Jonathan Wood, Stella Nkomo, Wadzanai Chigwa, Peace Rugube and executive director Eliab Chikwenhere. Nehanda Radio