Union challenges minister on corruption

via Union challenges minister on corruption | The Zimbabwean 14 August 2014 by Brenna Matendere

Energy minister Dzikamai Mavhaire has been challenged to fulfil the pledge he made to deal decisively with corruption at the power utility Zesa.

The National Energy Workers Union of Zimbabwe secretary-general, Thomas Masvingwe, said there had always been reports that the top brass at Zesa was engaging in corruption, such as abusing funds from clients, awarding themselves hefty salaries and paying ghost workers. Mavhaire had promised to deal with these issues but was not “walking his talk”.

“We are not seeing any action from the minister on the concerns of corruption at Zesa. It’s now over a year since Mavhaire was appointed minister of energy and he said dealing with corruption would be his first priority. We challenge him now to save face and start taking steps that show he is serious about his pledge,” said Masvingwe.

In 2012, an internal investigative audit, codenamed Operation Dandemutande (Cobweb), revealed that Zesa officers were deleting accounts with debts and replacing them with new ones that showd no money owing. The report also indicated that the officials colluded with account holders who paid them in cash or kind to destroy their bills.

A memo dated April 15 2012, from an investigating team covering Karoi, Kariba and Mhangura in Mashonaland West province and addressed to the field commander of the area, gave an insight into this massive scam that is understood to be common in all parts of the country to this day.

Masvingise said Mavhaire initially promised to lay off 7,000 workers after the exposures by the audit and save around $20m in wages, but nothing had been done.

“Zesa is top-heavy. There is one manager to every 16 employees. These managers take with them huge perks and they are fleecing the employer,” said the secretary-general.

He blasted Mavhaire for extending the term of office of Zesa Holdings CEO Josh Chifamba, saying the minister should have given a chance to someone else who could turn the company around.

The utility is still failing to provide adequate power and there is load-shedding in both residential and industrial areas. The power shortage has been blamed for reducing productivity needed to boost the economy.

Kuwadzana MP Nelson Chamisa recently pleaded in parliament that President Robert Mugabe should choose ministers who were serious. His plea came after Mavhaire said building more sub-stations to improve electricity supply in the country was “not like cooking sadza”.

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