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Grand theft: Inside Petrotrade corruption scandal

Energy minister Soda Zhemu and Godfrey Ncube who joined Petrotrade as a security officer before controversially rising to the post of Acting CEO, are in the eye of a storm over accusations of bleeding the state-owned fuel marketing and distribution company through rampant corruption.

Ncube who was deemed unfit for the job by a psychometric test report seen by Zim Morning Post manoeuvred to the top echelons of Petrotrade where he was said to have presided over massive theft of petrol and diesel to the tune of 300,000 litres a year which he explained away as environmental factors.

He is also accused of inflating costs of construction of service stations, ignoring tender regulations, starting projects without signing any contracts and holding fake interviews in which the outcome was fixed.

It is further alleged that Zhemu and Ncube would later collaborate in common purpose to micro-manage the state company to their personal benefit outside the confines of a board.

A litany of the accusations are contained in an urgent chamber application filed at the High Court last week by suspended Petrotrade Board Chairman Tinomudaishe Chinyoka.

Chinyoka raised alarm over rampant criminality at Petrotrade which he alleges is the basis for his suspension.

Chinyoka alleges that corrupt elements at Petrotrate have lined up to gift the country’s only state owned petroleum company to a predetermined buyer (IPG of Kuwait) in circumstances that reek of corruption and bribes to officials in the Zhemu led ministry.

“That an asset as valuable as Petrotrade is being valued at less than US$20 million a fraction of its value because the intended buyer has already indicated the price he wants to pay,” he argued.

Energy and Power Development minister Zhemu suspended the Chinyoka chaired Petrotrade Board on March 9 2022 pending investigations into matters of corporate governance.

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Zhemu had earlier accused the Petrotrade board of appointing senior staff members’ names Chief Operating Officer and Business Development Director outside the approved employed structure of the entity.

Suspended Petrotrade chairman Chinyoka then approached the court with an urgent chamber application seeking to be reinstated as the chairman on the grounds that Zhemu has no power under the Public Entities Act to suspend the board.

He said the suspension was in reaction of his board detailing provable instances of corruption and criminality by the Acting CEO Ncube and the Energy minister.

Chinyoka submitted that the matter was urgent “because it had a disproportionate impact to his career and professional integrity.”
Chinyoka is gunning for appointment as Prosecutor General and he will not be succeed at the interview for the post if there is still a cloud of corruption allegations over his name

“It is very essential that this matter be resolved forthwith so that the truth is exposed, which is that I have been suspended as a direct consequence of sending a 30 page letter detailing serious and (in my view) treasonous corruption in (Zhemu’s) ministry,” Chinyoka said.

Petrotrade Acting CEO has been fighting off allegations of corruption since controversially assuming office in 2014 following a failed psychometric examination in which he scored poorly.

In a letter to the suspended board when they assumed office last year, workers welcomed the board with a letter detailing how the company had become rundown under the Acting CEO.

The workers raised alarm that before the appointment of Ncube, Petrotrade used to sell 25 million litres per month of combined products – petrol and diesel.

By 2017 the company was down to 4 million litres and could barely manage 1,5 million litres of combined products at the time Chinyoka chaired board assumed office.

A project at Mabvuku where the entire construction of a service station at a cost of US$2,5 million had proceeded without any contract having been signed.

Fleecing the company through hiring external tankers that would give him kickbacks at the expense of using Petrotrade owned tankers.

Ncube is also accused of blocking a forensic audit. Zim Morning Post