Government has dissolved the scandal-tainted Zimbabwe Parks and Wildlife Management Authority (Zimparks)' board after continued reports of alleged malfeasance and financial impropriety by some board members, it has been learnt.
Last month, The Herald reported that Government had increasingly come under pressure to act after a report from the Auditor-General's Office indicated that not only was the board improperly constituted, but it was allegedly abusing its power to abuse the State entity's resources.
In a statement yesterday, permanent secretary in the Ministry of Environment, Water and Climate, Ambassador Grace Mutandiro, said the dissolution of board was as a result of the "wayward conduct of some members of the board".
"The Minister of Environment, Water and Climate, Honourable O.C.Z Muchinguri-Kashiri, has, in terms of Section 6 of the 12th schedule of the Parks and Wildlife Amendment Act Number 19 of 2001, terminated the term of office of the Parks and Wildlife Management Authority Board with immediate effect," said Ambassador Mutandiro.
"The wayward conduct of some members of the board, which was characterised by a departure from playing an advisory role to that of usurping executive powers, ran counter to the good corporate governance principles that Government has adopted and is upholding.
"Apart from playing a key role in the economy, the Parks and Wildlife Management Authority is also the custodian of Zimbabwe's natural resources and it, therefore, behoves on the minister to ensure that at all times competent individuals with the requisite probity constitute its Board," she said.
The current eight-member board was chaired by Mr Tichafa Mundangepfupfu, who was deputised by Mrs Idah Mupamhanga. Other board members included Messrs Cephas Mudenda, Tafadzwa Mundoga, Neville Mutsvangwa, Dr Hesphina Rukato and Ms Dorothy Mabika.
Mr Fulton Upenyu Mangwanya, who was appointed the new Zimpark's director-general in August last year, was an ex-officio member of the board.
A recent report from the Auditor-General's Office indicated that the board members were allegedly abusing their authority to loan themselves funds, including using the Authority's assets for personal use without Government approval. In one worrying incident, the board members even splurged more than $17 000 on laptops and cellphones for personal use.
Auditors concluded that not only was the behaviour of the directors in violation of regulations, but the unsanctioned allowances and benefits could also potentially attract penalties from the Zimbabwe Revenue Authority (Zimra).
It is believed that the composition of the board fell foul of Section 5 of the Parks and Wildlife Act, which stipulates that at least two of the board members should be professionals in financial and business management, and law, respectively.
But there were also damning allegations on the chairperson Mr Mundangepfupfu, who apparently loaned himself $1 069,86 in May 2016, barely three months after his appointment.
"This is contrary to Section 3.21 of Corporate Governance Framework for State Enterprises and Parastatals, which states that loans made either directly or indirectly to non-executive directors are prohibited unless the granting of loans is the core business of the entity and subject to the rules and procedures applicable to the granting of loans," said the AG's report.
There are claims that the void left after the departure of the former director-general of the wildlife management body, Mr Edison Chidziya, in 2015 -- which was only filled on August 1, 2017 through the appointment of Mr Fulton Upenyu Mangwanya -- led the board to increasingly dabble in the day-to-day running of the institution.