AG’s office summons, grills Zesa executives

SUSPENDED Zesa Holdings executives were last week summoned and grilled by auditors from the Auditor-General’s office as investigations into their alleged underhand deals continue.

BY RICHARD CHIDZA

Sources said among those taken in for questioning were suspended chief executive officer Joshua Chifamba and his lieutenants.

“They were called in and asked the same questions they were asked by external auditors who carried out the parastatal’s annual audit a few months ago.
When the new (Energy) minister (Joram Gumbo) came into office, an audit had already been completed and it remains to be seen whether anything untoward will be found,” one of the sources close to the case said.

“It seems the minister jumped the gun and suspended the executives. There is very little to go with and support the corruption charges as things stand.”
But Gumbo yesterday said Auditor-General Mildred Chiri had written to the parastatal’s board and requested that the senior managers be suspended to pave way for investigations.

“The Auditor-General wrote to the Zesa board and requested that the senior executives be sent on leave to create an atmosphere that allows their juniors to give information freely. It seems some of the executives were intimidating their juniors. Just after their arrests, the junior employees wrote anonymous letters indicating that they would not feel free to give evidence. So it was necessary to create a conducive environment,” Gumbo told NewsDay.

“When I joined the ministry, the audit was already underway and we are just continuing (with) it. We had anticipated that it would be completed by end of October, but it has spilled over. We, however, expect this issue to be concluded soon.”

Chifamba, Zimbabwe Electricity Transmission and Distribution (ZETDC) managing director Julian Chinembiri and finance director Thokozani Dhliwayo were last month arrested in connection with over $35 million alleged underhand dealings involving an Indian company, PME.

ZETDC is a subsidiary of Zesa Holdings.

PME was at the centre of the storm in 2014 over transformers it unprocedurally supplied to Zesa Holdings unit, Zent Enterprises.

Zent reportedly lost millions of dollars in insurance and storage fees for more than $16 million worth of transformers received from the Indian firm without placing an order amid claims of connivance between officials from PME, Zesa Holdings as well as its subsidiaries for delivery of equipment not requested.

The three were charged for contravening Sections 174(1)(a) of the Criminal Law (Codification and Reform) Act Chapter 9:23 before they were immediately sent on forced leave.