By Paidashe Mandivengerei
CORRUPTION at State power supplier, Zesa is so high that it has left President Emmerson Mnangagwa’s blood cold, Justice Minister Ziyambi Ziyambi has said.
Ziyambi was speaking during a panel discussion that included Zimbabwe Anti-Corruption Commission (Zacc) chairperson Justice Loice Matanda-Moyo.
The meeting was organised by a local State owned online television station in partnership with the US embassy in Harare, Thursday.
“Zesa is not run directly by Minister. I remember, going through the Zesa audit report (by Auditor General Mildred Chiri) with the President and he was shocked. We were shocked with the level of corruption at Zesa,” he said.
Ziyambi was responding to comments by US ambassador to Zimbabwe, Brian Nichols who had told the discussion that the country’s image had been soiled by corruption in government.
“Corruption has clouded Zimbabwe’s reputation. Transparency International estimates corruption costs Zimbabwe’s economy $1 billion per year, undermining business confidence, Auditor General Mildred Chiri discovery that Zesa and (its subsidiary) Zimbabwe Electricity Distribution Company has not taken ownership of US$4.9 million worth of transformers despite making payments of them many years ago. There are many other examples I could give but transparency and taking steps in dealing with corruption are what’s needed,” said Nichols.
In October last year, Zesa fired around 15 managers across its subsidiaries on allegations of corruption including then chief executive officer Joshua Chifamba.
In her 2018, audit report Chiri said the power utility that is struggling to supply the country with enough electricity, 10 years ago paid US$4.9 million for transformers to a local firm, PITO Investments but nothing has been delivered.
The audit further revealed that Zesa paid the same company another US$56 000 for another set of transformers despite having never received the first order. As fate would have it, second set of transformers were not delivered again.
In a space of 5 years, between 2012 and 2017, Chifamba reportedly splashed US$600 000 on luxury vehicles.
Other executive members who in most cases exceeded their contractual limits were allocated a total of over US$300 000 to purchase vehicles.
The power utility’s former executive board continuously upgraded their top of the range car fleet, paying little regard to their growing debt with South Africa’s power company, Eskom that resulted in supplies being cut off.
Zesa now owes the South African power utility almost US$30 million and despite having received US$10 million from government, Eskom has refused to unlock fresh supplies at a time when Zimbabwe is experiencing its worst power crisis.