via Action against looters begins | The Herald February 6, 2014
POLICE yesterday said they were ready to start criminal proceedings against suspects fingered in corrupt dealings in the ongoing salary-gate and other scandals that have dominated the media in recent weeks and await reports from the relevant parent ministries.Harare City Council yesterday said it would, next week, appoint auditors to sift through its finances amid reports of misappropriation of millions of dollars that culminated in the resignation of the chairperson of the city’s finance committee Councillor Norman Markham who said no self-respecting person would chair the committee as currently constituted.
Councillors yesterday tasked mayor Mr Bernard Manyenyeni, his deputy Mr Thomas Muzuva, chairperson of the audit committee Clr Panganai Charumbira and deputy chairperson of the finance committee Clr Urayayi Mangwiro to appoint auditors at a special council meeting held at Town House.
Prosecutor General Mr Johannes Tomana said he was prepared to bring to court those involved if he received dockets from the police, while police said they would not hesitate to launch investigations once armed with the necessary documents.
“Our official position is that those cases are being handled at the appropriate Government levels,” said National police spokesperson Chief Superintendent Paul Nyathi.
“Where a criminal offence is reported to the police, certainly investigations will be instituted.”
Mr Tomana said his office was ready for action.
He said if the affected entities were serious with the allegations of corruption, they have to make formal reports to the police.
In Parliament, Justice and Legal Affairs Deputy Minister Fortune Chasi yesterday said nothing had been brought to his ministry by the concerned ministers on the corruption cases.
He was responding to a question by non-constituency member of the National Assembly Dr Ruth Labode who sought to know if there was no crime committed given what had been reported to have transpired at PSMAS.
Speaking in an interview, chairperson of the Portfolio Committee on Justice, Legal and Parliamentary Affairs Ms Jessie Majome said it was critical that Government act quickly and decisively to restore public confidence in the affected institutions.
“The constitution is very clear on issues to do with administration at public institutions,” she said. “There is a whole chapter in the new Constitution dedicated to the prevention of abuse of public offices.
“Every minute that passes without the Government and relevant authorities acting will appear in the eyes of the public as a sign of their complicity in what is going on at these institutions, so for Government to clear its name it must act swiftly.”
Chapter 9 of the Constitution sets principles of public administration and leadership that officials at public institutions should adhere to.
Section 194 requires the administrators to, among other things, act in a professional manner and promote efficient and economic use of resources.
Section 195 (1) states that: “Companies and other commercial entities owned or wholly controlled by the State must, in addition to complying with the principles set out in section 194(1), conduct their operations so as to maintain commercial viability and abide by generally accepted standards of good corporate governance” and that “Companies and other commercial entities referred to in subsection (1) must establish transparent, open and competitive procurement systems.”
Health and Child Care secretary Dr Gerald Gwinji said they had initiated the process to deal with culprits at the Premier Service Medical Aid Society and were following the necessary steps as outlined in Statutory Instrument 330 of 2000 concerning regulation of medical aid societies.
It was recently revealed that PSMAS chief executive Dr Cuthbert Dube was grossing over US$500 000 a month, with the PSMAS annual wage bill for 15 top executives for 2013 coming to a whopping US$18,6 million with Dube, at US$6,4million, accounting for more than a third of this total.
This was despite PSMAS owing service providers US$38 million last year, which has since been reduced to US$13 million.
Dr Gwinji said they had already met with the Joint Advisory Council comprising of all stakeholders in the medical field and the PSMAS board.
He said they would meet the PSMAS board again on Monday because the Statutory Instrument says that it should be given a reasonable opportunity to make representations on the matter.
“We can only ask the board to call for an AGM after we have come to the conclusion that a society is defaulting,” Dr Gwinji said.
Dr Gwinji said the ministry might fail to act as swiftly as the public might want because the PSMAS board was not appointed by Government, but by members of the medical aid society.
He said the PSMAS members were obliged to call for a special AGM if they wished to remove the board.
The PSMAS board has since fired its chairperson Mrs Meisie Makeletso Namasasu and retired Dr Dube in connection with the obscene salaries and allowances.
With regards to the abuse of funds at Air Zimbabwe (Private) Limited, Transport and Infrastructural Development Minister Dr Obert Mpofu said yesterday he was still to receive the audit report detailing the abuse of funds for him to act.
The audit carried out by BCA Forensic Audit Services on the airline revealed that it was prejudiced of €5 895 695,49 and US$1 298 827,88 — totalling around US$10 million — in a four-year aviation insurance scam involving top management.
The audit report on the aviation insurance dated December 28, 2013, also sucked in Secretary for Transport and Infrastructural Development Mr Munesushe Munodawafa.
The Ministry of Information, Media and Broadcasting Service has since requested the Comptroller and Auditor-General to undertake an urgent forensic audit at ZBC covering the period January 1, 2009 to December 31 last year; and eight firms have submitted bids for the tender which closses tomorrow.
Suspended ZBC chief executive Mr Happison Muchechetere, who is on leave pending the forensic audit, was earning a salary and allowances totalling nearly US$40 000 per month, while workers went for seven months without pay.
Mr Muchechetere, who became substantive chief executive in May 2009, has drawn salaries and allowances approximated at US$2,28 million since then.
His salary and that of other senior managers at the public broadcaster included outrageous allowances.
Apart from this, Mr Muchechetere was also receiving unlimited access to fuel every month, five business class air tickets for him and his family to any international destination of his choice, three regional tickets and unlimited local air tickets every year.
In the mining sector, Mines and Mining Development Minister Cde Walter Chidhakwa has also instituted an audit on alleged corruption at the wholly State-owned Marange Resources which mines diamonds in Chiadzwa and has promised to act on the outcome.
Sources said the audit revealed that Government was prejudiced of millions of dollars as management raised inflated procurement receipts and pocketed the difference.