ZACC reinstates 8 investigating officers

Source: ZACC reinstates 8 investigating officers | The Herald  August 16, 2016

Felex Share Senior Reporter
The Zimbabwe Anti-Corruption Commission (ZACC) has reinstated eight of the 19 investigation officers it recently suspended for alleged corruption, insubordination and divulging the organisation’s secrets.

The remaining 11 officers, who all face similar charges, are still under investigation.

The eight, who were suspended for three months, were reinstated after serving only six days of their suspension, raising suspicions that senior managers at the anti-graft body could be vicitimising the workers.

ZACC employees argue that the victimisation emanates from their pursuit of a labour case in which they won an arbitral award of $1,5 million for outstanding allowances and benefits.

They also accuse some managers, led by acting secretary Mr Silas Pondo, of attempting to block the investigation of some high profile cases.

Some of the senior executives at the commission are alleged to be involved in the high profile cases.

ZACC chairperson Dr Job Whabira confirmed the reinstatement of the eight officers in letters dated August 5.

“Following your suspension from duty on the 28th of July and subsequent investigations carried out by the Commission, it has been established that you have no case to answer with regard to the allegations,” reads the letter.

“Please be advised that you are required to resume duty with immediate effect.

“You have to notify the human resources office on your resumption of duty.”

ZACC spokesperson Ms Phyllis Chikundura yesterday said those reinstated were Matthew Sithole, Charles Sepe, Esnath Katsamba, Rufaro Kunyenda, Soneni Chavizha, Berstern Matope, Masimba Victor and Forbes Mupotsa.

“The others from the list of those suspended are still under investigation,” she said.

All the suspended workers are on salary.

“Sources yesterday raised queries at the pace and manner in which the suspensions and reinstatements were being handled.

“In the July 28 letter the Commission sent to the workers, the relationship between the two parties was branded as untenable and one wonders how this unsound relationship had changed overnight, inside six days when these reinstatement letters were written,” said the source.

“This is clear evidence that the allegations are unfounded and they simply want to intimidate the workers to withdraw their court case and someone is blocking something here.

“Remember those who indicated that they were not pursuing the court case were spared from suspension.

“The eight have been reinstated without any investigation or hearing as required by the law and one wonders what the reasons for their suspension were in the first place.”

The source said it was surprising that the anti-graft body managers wanted to revive charges which some workers were cleared of by the previous commission years back.

The July 28 suspensions came two days after the affected employees signed letters confirming to management that they were pursuing the $1,5 million arbitral award they won at the Labour Court in 2014.

ZACC acting secretary Mr Pondo in a letter to the workers dated July 26, 2016 demanded that they indicate whether or not they would pursue the labour case.

“It is deemed necessary that you indicate whether you indeed instructed the lawyers to write responding to the memo which was directed to yourself seeking to know your position regarding the matter,” read the letter.

“You are therefore, still required to show your position on the items provided below and then sign on the space provided.”

Six investigating officers who indicated that they were not pursuing the matter were spared while the 19 got suspended.

The suspended investigating officers’ lawyers, Joel Mambara and Partners had written to Mr Pondo telling him that the labour case could not be withdrawn.

Said the lawyers: “We advise that our clients are still pursuing this matter. In fact we are awaiting a hearing date for the quantification application given that our efforts to engage you have been fruitless.

“We also note with concern that you have ejected our clients from their offices and withdrawn the vehicles they were using. Be rest assured that no threats or intimidation of any sort will deter our clients from pursuing what is lawfully theirs.”

Some managers are also alleged to be always demanding documents of high profile cases the investigating officers would be working on.