Zesa’s board was yesterday given five days to start investigating allegations of corruption levelled against its executive chairman, Dr Sydney Gata, barely a year after his appointment to lead the turnaround at the utility.
This means the investigations must start this week into allegations that Dr Gata may have allocated for his personal use five Zesa vehicles over and above his official Mercedes Benz, scuttled the disciplinary hearing of a top executive, spent $10 million on Christmas parties, sent four consultants to South Africa and set up a trust to mine gold.
Energy and Power Development Minister Fortune Chasi, yesterday wrote to the Zesa board of directors ordering them to expedite the probe.
The letter was copied to Deputy Minister Magna Mudyiwa, Chief Secretary to the President and Cabinet Dr Misheck Sibanda, Secretary for Energy and Power Development Dr Gloria Magombo and Dr Gata himself.
In the letter, Minister Chasi said the allegations against Dr Gata were serious, and not only put Zesa Holdings in bad light, but the entire Government and the ministry in particular.
“You are therefore instructed to give this matter all the urgency it deserves to ensure that it is resolved within the shortest time possible to allow the board to concentrate on its key mandate, that is ensuring availability of power,” said Minister Chasi.
“In all the deliberations and investigations, the board should ensure that the executive chairperson is accorded all his legal rights. I expect feedback of the board’s initial action within five days of this correspondence and every similar period, thereafter.”
Zesa is a private company wholly-owned by Government and is bound to operate in terms of the laws that govern it, namely the Public Entities Corporate Governance Act, Companies and Other Business Entities Act, and the Public Finance Management Act.
Under the Public Entities Act, Government is mandated to exercise strong interest in the affairs of a public entity including financial performance, reporting and accountability arrangements. Where deviations are noted, Government is obliged to take remedial action in terms of the law.
The laws also demand accountability, including the declaration of interest by officials of the company.
In this regard, Minister Chasi directed the board of directors to immediately institute investigations into the allegations against Gata and “take necessary steps in terms of all the relevant laws”.
Among other issues, Minister Chasi said the ministry now required information on the lawsuits between Dr Gata and Zesa and whether or not they were declared to the board, as the ministry is not aware of any such declaration; and the allocation of five extra company vehicles for Dr Gata’s personal use.
The ministry also requires information on the alleged interference in a disciplinary hearing involving Mrs Norah Tsomondo, and the alleged transactions involving Tuli Mining Project and a trust whose registration and ownership is unknown to the ministry.
The ministry wants to know more about the four consultants for whom Cabinet authority was sought to travel to South Africa for a study tour at Eskom, and in their investigations, the board is expected to establish whether the four are on Zesa payroll and, if not, the basis upon which they were engaged.
The board will also look into other conduct that it finds appropriate to investigate.
On January 14, 2020, Dr Gata allegedly wrote to the disciplinary authority secretary Mr Garikai Churu directing the committee to withdraw action against Mrs Tsomondo.