ZIMBABWE Electricity Supply Authority (Zesa) Holdings employees have taken sides with the parastatal’s embattled executive chairperson, Sydney Gata, who is being investigated for corruption.
Gata, whose appointment last November torched a storm, is being accused of various allegations of corruption, including allocating himself five Zesa vehicles over and above his official Mercedes-Benz. He is also accused of scuttling the disciplinary hearing of a top executive, spending ZW$10 million on Christmas parties, sending four consultants to South Africa and setting up a trust to mine gold.
Energy and Power Development minister Fortune Chasi has since ordered a five-day investigation into the allegations while the Zesa board has suspended him indefinitely.
In a fresh twist, Zesa workers, through the Zimbabwe Energy Workers’ Union (Zewu), have lent support to Gata, saying he is being hounded for tackling corruption within the parastatal.
“We have noted with concern the sustained campaign to malign and demonise your person through a number of allegations raised against you lately,” Zewu said in a letter of solidarity to Gata seen by the Zimbabwe Independent this week.
“We are however not surprised as we know that your fight against endemic corruption, since your assumption of duty, would create friends and foes. For us, the allegations are obviously being peddled by remnants of the previous administration who were largely the biggest beneficiaries of the corruption that crippled Zesa through stalled projects, the loss of millions of dollars and neglect of employees’ welfare,” the union said.
“We wish to assure you that we support you in the fight against corruption…..Zesa employees fully support you in that noble cause which has raised morale to levels never seen before,” the letter by Zewu further reads.
As first reported by the Independent last year, Gata’s shock appointment as Zesa executive chairperson in November last year was the result of a directive to Energy and Power Development minister Fortune Chasi by President Emmerson Mnangagwa.
The appointment, which came as a bolt from the blue, earned him a third spell at the troubled parastatal from which he was previously fired twice on allegations of corruption and mismanagement.
Gata’s first flirtation with Zesa was when he joined the organisation as its first black general manager soon after Independence.
He was dismissed from that position in 1995 after a commission of inquiry headed by retired High Court judge Justice George Smith found that he was unfit to hold the position because of incompetence.
The commission’s report left the then energy minister, the late Herbert Ushewokunze, with no choice but to fire Gata.
However, Gata bounced back as executive chairperson of Zesa in 2000 and oversaw the unbundling of the power utility into several companies that constitute Zesa Holdings today.
In 2006, Mike Nyambuya, the minister of Energy at the time, again fired Gata after he became disillusioned with the manner he was running Zesa.