CMED saga haunts Gumbo

via CMED saga haunts Gumbo – DailyNews Live Bridget Mananavire • 8 April 2016

HARARE – Transport minister Joram Gumbo is in a “spot of bother” following the arrest of CMED managing director Davison Mhaka — barely four months after he was reinstated by the ex-Zanu PF parliamentary whip.

Observers say the latest developments have not only exposed serious contractions in President Robert Mugabe’s anti-corruption fight, but also portend grave implications about politicians’ overarching powers and governance issues at parastatals.

“I do not hate anyone and I want things to be factual, everybody needs some dignity and everybody’s case needs to be heard,” Gumbo told the Daily News by telephone, adding his intention “was never to interfere or circumvent the CMED’s internal processes, but rather bring sanity to the institution”.

“When I went to the ministry, there was this person (Mhaka), who was home but (getting) paid and his benefits… and (then) someone who is acting. So, I thought let the courts decide (and) I don’t protect anybody, I protect the institution that I was mandated by the president. I would never do anything without consulting the president,” he said.

“ . . . I did not want judgments to be made prematurely . . . let us get rid of this corruption. It’s not just this parastatal, corruption is everywhere and we should fight it.”

And as Mhaka appeared in court this week on a money laundering charge, and frustrating the law after allegedly cooking up papers showing the flow of the $2,7 million bilked out of the CMED by First Oil, the focus has returned to Gumbo, especially after his spree of reinstating several parastatal heads and managers, who had been axed for various reasons.

Last year, Gumbo extended an olive branch to the Civil Aviation Authority of Zimbabwe’s general manager David Chawota, some Traffic Safety Council managers and then the CMED boss in January this year.

This was despite former board chairman Goodwills Masimirembwa’s stern November 2015 advice or warning that reinstating Mhaka was tantamount to “terminating the quasi-judicial processes underway”, but the minister argued the latter was key in bringing finality to the long-drawn theft saga.

“…I only had an issue with Masimirembwa because I told him to use Mhaka as a witness since he had been cleared. He didn’t comply with the directive and ignored the fact that a chief executive or managing director is employed (by) the minister, and the president,” Gumbo said amid persistent rumours that there was a rift between him and the ousted chairman.

However, an earlier tribunal led by Simbi Mubako had found the under-fire CMED boss “responsible for committing gross acts of misconduct … gross incompetence and inefficiency occasioning his employer’s enormous prejudice”.

Crucially, Gumbo had insisted that prior to the committee’s recommendations no case of Mhaka’s alleged incompetence had been reported to his ministry.

And as the saga trudged on, the minister even promised in December 2015 that they were close to “nabbing the real thieves and culprits” in the botched fuel deal based on “evidence” proffered by the parties under scrutiny now.