25 May 2017

Zimbabwe: Gershem Pasi Resigns From Zimra

Suspended Zimbabwe Revenue Authority (ZIMRA) commissioner-general, Gershem Pasi, has resigned from the country's revenue collector, saying he could not subject himself to a disciplinary process initiated by a board chaired by Willia Bonyongwe.

Pasi was suspended in May last year for alleged corruption, fraud, poor corporate governance and tax evasion, which the ZIMRA board alleged had prejudiced Treasury of more than US$20 million between 2009 and last year.

He was being charged in terms of the ZIMRA Code of Conduct, facing up to 40 counts of misconduct.

Pasi had pleaded not guilty to all of the charges.

Bonyongwe was the complainant in the case.

The probe against Pasi came after a whistle-blower reported irregularities in the importation of executive cars, which saw Pasi and several ZIMRA executives being sent on forced leave.

The audit began on July 3 last year.

In his resignation letter, addressed to Bonyongwe dated May 22, 2017, Pasi accused ZIMRA of entertaining "unfounded charges against him".

He maintained that he had committed no misconduct during his three-decade long tenure at ZIMRA and insisted that his "employer has without just or lawful cause preferred unfounded charges against me".

Pasi said the charges were "hollow, being based as they are upon an incompetent audit report by auditors, who abdicated their most basic functions and responsibilities".

"The fact, however, that allegations have been preferred against me under these circumstances means that there has been a complete breakdown in my relationship with my employer. The trust is gone. That reality has sadly played right before my eyes in the last seven months or so. Time has failed to heal the rift. Even when I am acquitted, I do not believe that I would want to continue to be of service to my country under such circumstances. I would, at any rate, have no one to work with in the high(est) places," said Pasi.

ZIMRA's deputy chairperson, Percy Toriro, said he could not comment on Pasi's resignation, referring all questions to the authority's head of corporate communications, Florence Jambwa.

Jambwa referred all questions to Bonyongwe, who said an official statement would be issued regarding the matter.

"Why don't you call Pasi and ask if he indeed wrote the letter, since it is now all over? We will make an official statement in that regard, but send me a WhatsApp message and I will respond," she said.

She had, however, not responded to the WhatsApp message at the time of going to press.

Pasi said his resignation was in the national interest, the authority's interest and his own interest.

"I terminate the relationship the very same way that it was consummated, with peace, tranquillity and restraint. I clothe myself in my dignity as I put off my title and call time on the long and gratifying association that I have had with the authority. I have decided to walk (away). I do so with effect from today, 22nd of May 2017," wrote Pasi in his resignation letter.

He said his exit should trigger payment of emoluments due to him and implored Bonyongwe to facilitate timely payment of these.

"I have no doubt that this issue will be resolved to everyone's satisfaction and thank you in advance for the work that you will put in the resolution of this matter, including the many mountains that you will move," said Pasi.

Pasi was being accused of signing a US$14 million contract with a company called AVIC International for the supply of uniforms and tollgate equipment without following tender procedures.

He was also accused of allocating himself excessive vehicle allowances amounting to US$374 451 between 2014 and May 2016 without approval from the board and allocating himself excessive holiday allowances and taking US$205 000 from the authority during the same period.

He was also alleged to have authorised his daughter to use ZIMRA's vehicle and approving salary increments without the board's approval.

Pasi also allegedly received "unexplained" yearly allowances amounting to US$121 926.

newsdesk@fingaz.co.zw

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