By Robert Tapfumaneyi
EMBATTLED ZESA board executive chair, Sydney Gata has denied allegations of corruption levelled against him, according to leaked board meeting minutes seen by NewZimbabwe.com.
Gata who is on suspension, is accused of allocating himself five company vehicles for personal use, interfering with the disciplinary hearing of top executive Norah Tsomomdo, squandering millions in company funds to throw lavish parties for staff, among a slew of professional misdemeanours.
Responding to the car allocation allegation, Gata indicated he was allocated two vehicles in terms of his contract; the Mercedes Benz as a personal allocated vehicle and the Toyota Fortuner as a pool vehicle, for business and personal use.
His wife used the Toyota Fortuner.
He indicated that he was a hands-on Executive Chairman who travelled a lot within the various ZESA Group establishments throughout the country and used the pool vehicles with some ZESA employees during the travels.
Gata also stated he attended 18 out of 23 late ZESA employees’ funerals where even line managers were not able to attend.
His contract allows him unlimited fuel.
The ZESA Group Loss Control Manager also told the board members that two of the vehicles quoted in the media as the Toyota Fortuner Registration number AEK 1657 and the Mazda BT50 Registration number (ACU 6660) were not ZESA vehicles but owned by some private individuals not related to Gata.
On alleged installation of solar equipment at Gata’s residence using ZESA US$ 4000 funds, which was not covered by his contract, the executive board chairman was exonerated by a Maviva who administers all Executive and Senior Management contracts.
Maviva confirmed the company had not paid for any solar system as that aspect was not covered in Gata’s contract of employment.
On the trip to South Africa by non-power utility employees, the board was informed that the trip was cancelled as a result of Covid-19 restrictions.
Gata also told the board members that Engineer Peter Tshuma was not on the ZESA payroll but he had invited him to look at the Boiler plant at Hwange Power Station which had been breaking down frequently as he had unparalled expertise in boiler plants.
Tshuma provided the service at his own expense and Maviva and Chikwenhere also confirmed that they had not paid any salaries to non ZESA employees.
On the alleged use of $10 million in company funds for lavish Christmas parties at Hwange and Kariba Power Stations and $2 million on alcohol alone when he was appointed to ZESA last year, Gata said the parties were indeed done in December 2019 in order to boost the morale of staff.
The Zimbabwe Power Company provided for the funding for those, such expenditure was a normal operating expenditure, which was auditable in the event of misuse.
On ZESIT Projects allegedly being funded through ZESA coffers, Gata indicated he had indeed come up with the concept of a Trust in the form of ZESIT and consulted widely with various ministries which bought into the idea.
The Trust was a huge asset to Zimbabwe and the region as it sought to bring together a pool of professionals in engineering and other technocrats who were former ZESA employees and were currently resident in Zimbabwe and throughout the world to assist with provision of expertise in various local projects for the good of the country and its development.
ZESIT was a registered Trust with 16 Trustees chaired by an Engineer Martin Manuhwa.
He indicated he was not one of the Trustees.
On the issue of ZESIT taking over projects meant for ZESA such as the KEPCO and POSCO, Gata indicated POSCO had submitted an Expression of Interest (EOI) for a project that would use municipal waste dump material and cheap coal to generate power at Harare Power Station. A Non – Disclosure Agreement (NDA) for the proposed project was awaited.
With regards to KEPCO, to his knowledge, the company was offering an opportunity for a coking coal project with ZESIT.