The Tendai Biti led parliamentary committee has demanded the firing of one of the senior executives at the Zimbabwe National Road Administration (Zinara).
During yesterday’s hearing, Parliament’s Public Accounts Committee (PAC) said it incomprehensible that the Zinara board has kept the parastatal’s finance director Simon Taranhike notwithstanding him being implicated in the alleged wrongdoings at the parastatal.
“Taranhike is the one at the centre of all these problems and I wonder why you are keen on keeping him. Did you also get the thousands that he gives as bribe or the fuel that he is so fond of dishing out?” thundered committee chair, Tendai Biti.
Zinara Board Chairperson Engineer Michael Madanha said they are removing all corrupt managers and replacing them with a new team.
Appearing before the Parliamentary Public Accounts Committee (PAC) chaired by Harare East Legislator Tendai Biti in Harare on Monday, Engineer Madanha said ZINARA management was guilty of spending the parastatal’s money on lavish lifestyles as well as awarding contracts to companies without going to tender.
Engineer Madanha said they had not fired all the senior management even though there was overwhelming evidence because the board has to follow laid down labour laws and procedures before any lawful dismissal is made.
Two weeks ago, ZINARA’s acting chief executive officer Ms Mathlene Mujokoro and audit manager Mr Shadreck Matengabadza tendered their resignation letters, while 19 employees were arrested for fraud cases involving more than US$210 000.
Taranhike, has been sucked into a fuel scandal that he reportedly intended to use to “grease media friends” and other with no connection to the parastatal.
According to a report written by a junior employee Dennis Jaricha, who was bullied into releasing 1800 litres of fuel by Taranhike, instead of being prosecuted for abuse of office, the finance director has been asked to “reimburse”.
An electronic mail send by Zinara administration manager Peter Boterere to acting chief executive officer Mathlene Mujokoro reveals that, Taranhike ordered Jaricha to issue the 1800litres of fuel to an unnamed local reporter.
Taranhike also revealed that Zinara executives, inspired by Zanu-PF’s G40 faction, allegedly colluded to embark on a looting spree, in case the party lost the forthcoming general elections.
Taranhike, who openly shed tears, while giving evidence at the High Court, as he narrated the order of events leading to the breakdown of his relationship with his chief executive officer, Nancy Masiiwa.
Taranhike said he was tasked by Masiiwa to raise $1,77 billion in four months, as the parastatal had failed to service a $206 million loan over years. The CEO said, while the country was battling economic hardships, Zinara executives were living large, and embarking on foreign-sponsored business trips and shopping sprees.
Taranhike told High Court judge, Justice Amie Tsanga that his relationship with Masiiwa had hit rock bottom in 2017, after he allegedly refused to join the G40 faction and was warned he would not make it in life.
Detectives from the police’s Criminal Investigation Department (CID) Fraud Squad have opened a probe into Taranhike and director for human resources and administration Precious Murove over allegations of corruption involving US$500 000.
The senior officials are accused of surreptitiously keeping the money in a foreign currency account with the CBZ before moving it to another bank when the road authority’s acting chief executive officer Mathlene Mujokoro demanded she be made a signatory to the account.
Zinara finance director Simon Taranhike and director for human resources and administration Precious Murove opened the two foreign currency accounts, to which they are the only signatories, in November last year when the Reserve Bank of Zimbabwe directed banks to separate forex accounts from Real-Time Gross Settlement accounts.
Both Zinara board chairman Mike Madanha and national police spokesperson Paul Nyathi confirmed the ongoing investigation.
Taranhike and Murove are also among some of the Zinara managers who were in October last year placed under formal police investigation after a forensic audit implicated them in a massive corruption scandal in which they are suspected of systematically creaming off the parastatal over several years through questionable dealings.
Sources close to developments said the latest scandal came to light when Zinara failed to pay an ICT service provider US$500 000 late last month.
The sources said Taranhike reportedly demanded that the service provider first pay off his outstanding mortgage as a way of inducing payment from Zinara. The company refused to budge to his demands and responded by switching Zinara off its systems as a retaliatory measure.