Zimstat abandons US$3m head office 

Source: Zimstat abandons US$3m head office – The Zimbabwe Independent

It is the latest of several mismanagement claims at the tax payer funded statistical agency, which courted public attention after the suspension of director general, Taguma Mahonde last year.

A US$3 million Zimbabwe National Statistics Agency (Zimstat) mansion has been abandoned in Harare, which led to vandals causing damage worth over US$ US$600 000, according to an investigation by Truth Diggers.

It is the latest of several mismanagement claims at the tax payer funded statistical agency, which courted public attention after the suspension of director general, Taguma Mahonde last year.

An official said Zimstat acquired the property, which is located in Eastlea, Harare, to set up its head office. A source said up to US$3 million was involved.

The executive said some officials were not aware of the property until news of its destruction emerged recently.

“I didn’t know anything about that property until we were told we have a property in Eastlea that was vandalised,” the official said.

“However, the person who may know all the details is our director of administration and the acting director general,”  the official added.

Tapiwa Zimbveka, the director for admin-istration at Zimstat said the case was still under investigation. As such, he could not give full details.

“Unfortunately, the matter is under investigation, and we cannot comment lest we jeopardise the process. “Zimstat will only be in position to comment when the investigation has been concluded,” Zimbveka said.

“It is office space, Zimstat HQ,” he added.

But sources close to the developments were worried that the rot at Zimstat mirrored problems in government agencies.

“The incident happened in the Eastlea area where Zimstat recently suffered a loss of property worth US$600 000 due to vandalism,” a source said.

“The building had been left unattended for a significant period of time without any security measures in place. Specific reasons for not having security are known only to the institution. This lack of oversight and responsibility is concerning and reflects poorly on management within the government. Leaving such a valuable asset unguarded is not only a waste of taxpayer money, but it also puts the property at risk of theft or damage,” said the source, who noted that the property may have been intentionally abandoned to pave way for looting.

The source said assets destroyed or vandalised at the property included tubs, electric motors, doors, electricity equipment, plumbing equipment, windows and chambers estimated at over US$ US$600 000.

“There were suspicions that the building was purposely left unguarded to allow thieves to carry out their activities. Zimstat has both a risk manager and a director for administration and finance that are qualified to ensure the provision of security guards and prevent such incidents of vandalism.

“This incident at Zimstat is just one manifestation of a larger problem within the Zimbabwe government. If such negligence and clueless management continue to prevail in critical positions, the financial losses are likely to continue, potentially hampering the country’s economic growth and development,” the source added.

In October last year Mahonde was suspended after anti-graft investigators combed through the agency’s documents following a swell of allegations.

Mahonde and another executive whose employment status was queried in a report lodged with the Zimbabwe Anti-Corruption Commission (Zacc) slipped into investigators’ radar after whistleblowers claimed top range vehicles had been abused by “untouchable” bigwigs for personal gain.

Whistle blowers also claimed there were dodgy transactions taking place over school fees allowances by some of the agency’s top officials, one of whom admitted wrong doing when approached by the Independent.

The eight-page paper submitted late 2022 prompted Zacc to probe the agency.

The report also claimed that a top Zimstat executive misappropriated funds donated by the Reserve Bank of Zimbabwe to help the agency bolster its vehicle fleet by an additional eight cars.

It also claimed that the looted funds were also supposed to be deployed towards purchasing 150 motor bikes for the agency.

The report also claimed that a few years ago, Zimstat purchased airtime for tablets that was more than the value of the gadgets, which looters then parcelled out to their cronies for sale on the black market.

“The DG is abusing the name and reputation of the Office of the President and the party (Zanu PF) for his personal benefit,” the whistle blowers claimed in the reportwhich they submitted to Zacc, along with evidence.

“He is ever boasting that he is highly connected and untouchable. He is abusing agency vehicles, fuel and travel and subsistence allowances. Currently, he is in possession of five agency vehicles, two personal drivers for his private use, which is outside the provisions of good corporate governance practices as a good corporate citizen.”

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