via We are not corrupt — ZTA – DailyNews Live 7 MARCH 2014
Zimbabwe Tourism Authority (ZTA) chief executive Karikoga Kaseke has described as “frivolous” allegations that the authority was corrupt for bailing out its parent ministry with “miniscule” tasks such as satellite television subscriptions.
While the nation has been absorbed with interesting titbits about public sector sleaze relating to salaries, other perks and tender procedures — under the so-called salary-gate scandal — questions have arisen over how the tourism body had spent nearly $50 000 on Walter Mzembi’s Hospitality ministry over the past five years.
“I cannot be intimidated (by the media or anyone) to stop assisting my ministry and where there is a clear need such as those services rendered to the ministry through proper procedures, and request,” Kaseke told the Daily News yesterday.
“For example, people have been talking about loans advanced to the parent ministry, that we have been evading taxes (on travel and subsistence allowances) and paying for luxuries such as newspaper subscriptions, but we feel these are essentials for a tourism minister,” he said, adding the transactions were above-board in that his executive had even had to create a debtors’ book for Mzembi’s office in order to get reimbursements when the Finance ministry gets adequate resources.
Although Kaseke fully supports and subscribes to the anti-graft blitz by the media, and authorities, he said the fourth estate must “not be used to tackle issues that it did not fully understand or comprehend”.
In this, the former Civil Aviation Authority of Zimbabwe boss was referring to an audit report forming the basis of rampant speculation about the authority’s affairs and which he actually said “had not been qualified”.
On the strong belief that someone was “out to get him with spurious corruption charges”, the ZTA chief also said he had been subject of malicious pay cheque rumours yet he was among the least paid parastatal heads in the country.
To back up his argument, Kaseke produced a payslip reflecting a $4 800 gross figure, whereas his peers were earning five, if not 100, times more.
“This is despite the fact that I am CEO of a parastatal ranked third on the performance chart,” he said, adding the authority was one of a few that have current audited books or statements.
Meanwhile, the ZTA has been unable to pay artistes who composed key songs for last year’s United Nations World Tourism Organisation (UNWTO) general assembly in Victoria Falls due to budgetary constraints.
“Unfortunately, that money did not come, so we were unable to pay the musicians,” Givemore Chidzidzi, the authority’s chief operations officer (COO) said, adding “the artistes were actually aware of this development and position”.
“I checked on the background information and money for funding for the UNWTO project was supposed to come from the Finance ministry, and we would receive it through the Ministry of Tourism.”
With the epic event being co-hosted by Zimbabwe and Zambia in August 2013, those who took part in the theme song musical competition, include Suluman Chimbetu, producer Russell Chiradza, Audius Mtawarira, Mono Mukundu and Albert Nyathi, who scooped the $30 000 top prize.
The other category comprised Jennifer Maneni, Rute Mbangwa, Bob Nyabinde and Ernest Tanga Wekwa Sando.
“We were told that we were supposed to get a certain amount on the day it was announced and the remainder at a later date.
“We have not received anything yet,” Chiradza said, noting though that ZTA had communicated the non-availability of funds to the artistes.
Fungai Zvirahwa, Mtawarira’s manager, said even though there has been no official communication yet, they were “patiently waiting” for their dues arising from the 20th UNWTO anniversary gig.