By Nyashadzashe Ndoro
President Emmerson Mnangagwa has controversially reinstated Sydney Gata as Executive Chairman of ZESA and its board while investigations into his alleged corrupt dealings are still ongoing.
On August 6 2020, Mnangagwa, dismissed Fortune Chasi from the Energy Ministry and suspended Gata as the Executive Chairman of ZESA Holdings and his entire Board of Directors on allegations of gross misconduct that had been levelled against them.
Chief Secretary to the President and cabinet Misheck Sibanda said the suspension was in terms of section 16 (1) (a) as read with section 16 (1) (d) of the Public Entities Corporate Governance Act.
Mnangagwa referred the matter to the Zimbabwe Anti-Corruption Commission (ZACC) for investigations focusing on the underlying corrupt practices by ZESA Board Members and within the electricity sector as a whole.
Mnangagwa further requested ZACC to complete its investigations and submit a Report of its findings within a period of four weeks from the date of referral.
ZACC completed its Interim Report on 4 September 2020 which has since been received by Mnangagwa, however, investigations remain in progress until their logical conclusion.
According to the Interim Report corruption investigations have so far covered the following issues:
“The Intratek Gwanda Solar Project;
” The Mutare Peaking Plant Project;
“Conduct of the former Minister of Energy and Power Development in his dealings with ZESA;
“Conduct of the officials in the Ministry of Energy and Power Development in their dealings with ZESA.
“The Interim Report further examined corporate governance at ZESA and proffered recommendations on the subject,” read the statement by Sibanda.
Meanwhile, Mnangagwa has controversially reinstated Gata and argued that ZACC had cleared him of the first four charges.
Gata was accused of the following allegations:
i) Self-allocation of six vehicles for personal and family use;
ii) Authorising an expenditure of ZW$10 million for Christmas parties in Hwange and Kariba in 2019 without Board approval;
iii) Unilaterally installing solar equipment at his residence in Borrowdale using ZESA funds;
iv) Setting up a Trust called ZESIT to undertake several ZESA projects;
v) Interfering with disciplinary process, in particular, that of Mrs Norah Tsomondo, the Company Secretary of the Zimbabwe Power Company (Pvt) Limited; and
vi) Allegedly authorizing the payment of ghost employees and his personal workers on the ZESA payroll under the misrepresentation that they were employed by ZESA.
After reinstating Gata, Mnangagwa has directed the new Energy minister, Soda Zhemu to examine corporate governance issues that have been raised in the ZACC Interim Report and present his recommendations on the same to him by 30 November 2020.
“The Interim Report cleared Dr Gata of the first four (4) allegations. With regards to the last two (2) allegations, ZACC is yet to conclude its investigations.
“With regards to allegations against the Board members, the Interim Report indicates that the investigations are still in progress.
” His Excellency the President, being cognisant of the fact that ZESA is at the epicentre of the economic activity of the Nation and that it would not be desirable for this entity to operate below optimal efficiency due to lack of leadership at its helm, has directed as follows:
1. That the Executive Chairman of ZESA, Dr S Gata, while investigations are ongoing, be allowed to carry on his responsibility as Executive Chairman;
2. That the Board members also continue in their positions until the finalization of the investigations; and
3. That the Minister of Energy and Power Development.
During the peak of the fight between Chasi and Gata, Gata registered his support for Mnangagwa claiming the former Minister had no powers to fire him. Nehanda Radio