Parliament demands Zinara graft probe

Transport minister Felix Mhona

PARLIAMENT has demanded that the Zimbabwe Anti-Corruption Commission (Zacc) opens investigations into corruption allegations against senior managers at the Zimbabwe National Roads Administration (Zinara).

A report tabled — by the portfolio committee on Public Accounts on Thursday — last week analysing Zinara’s 2017-2018 forensic audit, revealed that hundreds of millions of United States dollars were grossly mismanaged.

“The committee makes the finding that Zinara was totally and absolutely … mismanaged. As a result, there was gross abuse of resources, no corporate governance culture and no corporate compliance. The Zimbabwe Anti-Corruption Commission must investigate the abuse of office by current and former Zinara officials as covered in this report,” the committee demanded.

“The committee recommends that disciplinary action should be taken within a period of six months upon adoption of this report, against all concerned employees at Zinara from senior and middle management to lower case staff that were operating during the period under discussion.

“Where employees have left or resigned, we recommend the institution of criminal proceedings for abuse of office or corruption. Zinara must develop financial and human resources manuals, with the aid … of experts,” the committee added.

It also called for current and former board of directors who unlawfully received allowances outside the terms of reference and contracts to pay back the money within six months of the adoption of the report, failure of which they are to face legal action.

The committee also found that there was no sound human resources policy or system at Zinara, no requisite checks and balances and no compliance with sound principles of human resources management resulting in unqualified people being recruited without a process of public interviews.

“As a result, Zinara ended up being saddled with incompetent individuals who unfortunately were controlling and running budgets that ran into millions of United States dollars.

“The committee also makes the finding that corruption at Zinara was as a result of unqualified persons deliberately recruited to emasculate the institution. Zinara represents a classic example of the capture of a public institution by nefarious individuals whose sole purpose was to loot public resources,” the committee observed.

It was also the committee’s finding that Zinara flouted the country’s procurement procedures by awarding tenders to some companies for the construction of roads without following due process.

The report, therefore, directed Transport minister Felix Mhona to report to Parliament within two months from the adoption of the report on the corrective measures taken.

It further demanded Mhona and the government to re-examine Zinara’s mandate and analyse if it had fulfilled its obligations and policy expectations since its formation and whether the issue of roads and road maintenance were still best served by the parastatal or another agency.

“Millions of dollars were lost through failure to go to tender, over-payment of contracts or the manipulation and alteration of contracts after the Tender Board had made approval subject to certain conditions or the deliberate misleading of Zinara,” the committee said.

It was also observed by the committee that Zinara illegally executed special projects with several questionable and dubious contractors which cost the organisation US$ 71 487 896, 21 and R31 452 102, 53.

The committee made the finding that Zinara had no authority in terms of the Roads Act of entering into any special contracts with any contractors.

“Zinara is a road fund whose sole function is to distribute resources to road authorities who are in fact local authorities. The committee further makes the finding that in the majority of the special projects, there was no delivery, no performance and no oversight by the Zinara board.

“The committee, therefore, makes the finding that the special projects were nothing other than looting of resources by the executive of Zinara in connivance with corrupt contractors,” the report further reads. – Daily News