2 February 2014

Zimbabwe: Mugabe Knew About Obscene Salaries - Moyo

PRESIDENT Robert Mugabe and the then government of national unity (GNU) were fully aware of the obscene salaries and looting that was taking place at parastatals and other state enterprises, a former cabinet minister has said.

But minister of State in the President's Office, Didymus Mutasa insisted Mugabe was in the dark over the looting.

State enterprises such as the Zimbabwe Broadcasting Corporation, Air Zimbabwe and PSMAS, as well as the City of Harare have been rocked by allegations of corruption.

Top executives are said to be earning obscene salaries and engaged in underhand dealings at a time the institutions were reeling under massive debts.

PSMAS boss Cuthbert was reportedly earning US$500 000 while ZBC chief executive officer was getting US$40 000 per month.

Former minister of State enterprises and Parastatals, Gorden Moyo said Mugabe and the Zanu PF government should not act surprised by recent revelations of malfeasance at public institutions.

He said they were well-appraised of the rot in parastatals during the GNU era, but never took action.

Moyo said his ministry raised the issue of malfeasance, including that of unreasonable salaries for parastatal bosses, but the line ministers refused to act because they were benefiting.

"We raised these issues when they came out but nothing happened. They are known. The President (Mugabe) was aware," he said. "Line ministers were accomplices to the crimes so they could not prevail on the parastatal bosses."

Moyo alleged that there was evidence that parastatals bosses were bribing ministers with top of the range vehicles such as Mercedes Benz and Toyota Landcruisers as well as fuel and airtime over and above their official government allocations.

He said when going for foreign trips, ministers were double claiming travel and subsistence allowances from treasury as well as parastatals falling under them.

"They were double dipping and these issues are known," said Moyo.

He said parastatals boards have become "retirement homes" for board members, most of them with a military background.

Some of the board members were awarding themselves monthly salaries of up to US$2 000 over and above sitting allowances of US$500.

Moyo said his ministry came up with policies adapted by the government including the corporate governance framework which was launched by Mugabe and then Prime Minister, Morgan Tsvangirai.

He said this was ignored and never implemented by ministries because it was crafted by an MDC-T minister.

"Zanu PF ministers did not want to be seen implementing policies raised by an MDC minister. We are now paying the cost of partisanship," said Moyo.

However Mutasa said Moyo should provide concrete evidence that cabinet ministers were colluding with parastatals bosses to loot state enterprises. He said Mugabe could have acted early, had he been made aware of the looting.

"The President is a principled leader. I do not think he could have heard such cases of corruption and fail to act," Mutasa said.

Zimbabwe Congress of Trade Unions (ZCTU) acting secretary general, Gideon Shoko said the labour movement published results of a survey which showed that executives were earning "outrageous" salaries, but the government "never raised a finger."

He said most permanent secretaries and other officers in the different ministries sit on boards of parastatals and were aware of the huge salaries paid to state enterprises bosses.

"They were quiet because of political bootlicking," said Shoko. "It was their boys and girls that they had selected to be executives."

Zimbabwe Energy Workers Union (ZEWU) ZEWU General Secretary Martin Chikuni said the huge "chefs" perk were an act of "financial terrorism."

He said the union now felt vindicated as it had always raised such issues during collective bargaining, especially in the energy sector dominated by parastatals.

"We are calling on government to appoint forensic auditors from reputable firms to guard against being misled by most of these now jittery and heartless managers at these parastatals who can avail cooked figures to conceal the magnitude of their acts of 'constructive' thievery," he said.

Chikuni said those suspected of looting should not only be investigated, reprimanded or fired but should be prosecuted for economic sabotage.

Labour and Economic Development Research Institute of Zimbabwe (LEDRIZ) director Godfrey Kanyenze said the board and line ministries were responsible and should be held culpable for the fat salaries.

"Those that are supposed to provide the oversight are equally guilty," Kanyenze said. "You can't tell me that [line] minister does not know what a chief executive or general manager earns. If he or she is not aware, it means that something is horribly wrong."

Reasons given for offering competitive salaries in parastatals, state enterprises and local authorities were the need to attract the best brains in the country.

Kanyenze said an organisation must attract best brains by giving people performance management contracts.

"The only time pay comes before work is in the dictionary," Kanyenze said.

'MEGA-SALARIES, AN ACT OF FINANCIAL TERRORISM'

Zimbabwe Congress of Trade Unions (ZCTU) acting secretary general, Gideon Shoko said the labour movement published results of a survey which showed that executives were earning "outrageous" salaries, but the government "never raised a finger".

He said most permanent secretaries and other officers in the different ministries sat on boards of parastatals and were aware of the huge salaries paid to state enterprise's bosses.

"They were quiet because of political bootlicking," said Shoko. "It was their boys and girls that they had selected to be executives."

Zimbabwe Energy Workers Union (Zewu) general secretary Martin Chikuni said the huge perks were an act of "financial terrorism."

He said the union now felt vindicated as it had always raised such issues during collective bargaining, especially in the energy sector dominated by parastatals.

"We are calling on government to appoint forensic auditors from reputable firms to guard against being misled by most of these now jittery and heartless managers at these parastatals who can avail cooked figures to conceal the magnitude of their acts of 'constructive' thievery," he said.

Chikuni said those suspected of looting should not only be investigated, reprimanded or fired but should be prosecuted for economic sabotage.

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