Petrotrade Board Suspension Challenge Hits a Snag

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By Mary Taruvinga

HIGH Court judge Justice David Mangota has struck off the roll an urgent chamber application by former Petrotrade board chair Tinomudaishe Chinyoka, who was challenging his dismissal from state oil company.

Chinyoka was suspended from the board together with Zanele Dube, Simbarashe Mhuriro, Gladys Mumhure, Ferida Matambo, Lilian Timveos, Getrude Marabada, Godfrey Ncube and Dakarai Mukuku.

He argued that energy minister Soda Zhemu had no authority to suspend him but only the vice president, Constantino Chiwenga who is assigned with the administration of the public entities.

“Whereupon after reading documents filed on record, it is ordered that the application is removed from the roll with no order as to costs,” ruled the judge.

Chinyoka had revealed that over US$103,3 million was corruptly squandered at Petrotrade before the board of directors he chaired was suspended by Zhemu.

Some reports say Chinyoka was elbowed out after opposing the selling of Petrotrade for only US$37 million to controversial business tycoon and President Emmerson Mnangagwa ally Kudakwashe Tagwirei.

The lawyer said the letter dismissing him was a red herring for a decision that had already been made, which was to dismiss the board.

In his court application Chinyoka  said Zhemu suspended the board on allegations that there had been improper appointments of staff at Petrotrade.

Zhemu suspended the board  for allegedly interfering with the company’s daily operations and tender processes.

Chinyoka argued that this was not true as Zhemu only did this to protect the corrupt activities.

He also said when the board was still in office there was progress to an extent that on the day they were suspended the company had sold in excess of 3 million litres of fuel.

Chinyoka said the board had also tried to cause a forensic audit to be done by the auditor general but got “a dressing down” from the energy permanent secretary who told the board that it was not its duty to ask for it.

According to Chinyoka, the  partial privatisation of Petrotrade was running at the exclusion of the board which was unlawful and riddled with corruption.

He said it was calculated to gift the country’s only state owned petroleum company to a predetermined buyer (IG of Kuwait) in circumstances that reeked of corruption and backhanders to officials in the energy ministry.

Chinyoka said his suspension in circumstances he had detailed provable instances of corruption and criminality coupled with Zhemu indirectly empowering the Acting Chief Executive Office (ACEO) to run the company without oversight was irrational and outrageous in its defiance of logic.

He cited Zhemu, Chiwenga and the Auditor General as the first, second and third respondents respectively.

PetroTrade is mentioned as the fourth respondent.