ZESA Holdings has sent 15 managers across its subsidiaries on mandatory leave to pave way for a forensic audit into the affairs of the parastatals.The audit has been going on and it was felt that sending senior staff members on leave would enable junior employees to release critical information to the auditors without fear.
The decision comes a few days after Zesa chief executive officer Joshua Chifamba, Zimbabwe Electricity Transmission and Distribution Company (ZETDC) managing director Julian Chinembiri and finance director Thokozani Dhliwayo appeared in court, charged with criminal abuse of office after allegedly engaging in corrupt deals with an Indian company, PME, for the supply of transformers. The deals are reportedly worth $35 million.
Zesa board chairman Dr Herbert Murerwa wrote to the managers informing them of the decision to send them on the mandatory 90 days leave.
In a letter, a copy of which is in our possession, Dr Murerwa said: "As you are aware, Zesa Holdings and its subsidiary companies has been undergoing forensic audit.
"Work on this audit has progressed relatively well and it is envisaged that an interim report shall be produced by the auditors in the short term. However, and in order to consummate that exercise, it has become necessary for senior staff in identified positions to be away from their workstations and offices to allow the audit process unfettered access to any other information as may be necessary and your position is one such."
"In that respect, you are accordingly, formally advised that you shall, with effect from Monday 8 October 2018, be required to go on mandatory leave.
"The said leave shall be in place for a period not exceeding 90 days in terms of our Human Resources Administrative Policies, Principles and Procedure Manual."
Dr Murerwa advised the managers that during the mandatory leave, they were supposed to remain at home.
"While in mandatory leave, you are prohibited from taking up employment elsewhere as you may be required at short notice to appear at work or provide any pertinent information towards the forensic audit.
"Should you require to travel out of Harare, you must contact the undersigned (Dr Murerwa) for approval," he said. "You may be required to respond to issues as may arise or present yourself before the forensic auditors, any internal company official or other stakeholders as may be necessary. In that event the company will contact you."
He prohibited the managers from taking into possession any documents with company information from their offices.
"Similarly, you are required to surrender your laptop and other company information technology gadgets in your possession.
"You may, however, keep your company-allocated phone. Should you require access to your office for collection of any personal belongings, you are required to contact the Acting Group Chief Executive Officer, who shall facilitate for the same. Kindly, surrender all office and other work-related keys or access details to the Head Corporate Services. During your period of mandatory leave, you may not divulge any company information or cause any privileged company information to be divulged by any person or authority."
The managers will enjoy salaries and benefits while on leave.
"To that extent, any off payroll benefits that you are eligible to, shall be administered through the office of the Acting Group Chief Executive Officer. The board intends to consummate this process in the shortest possible timeframe and will, therefore, keep you abreast of developments," said Dr Murerwa.
Energy and Power Development Minister Dr Joram Gumbo told The Herald yesterday that while he was not involved in the matter, the Zesa board had notified him of its decision to send the managers on mandatory leave.
"There is a forensic audit going on. It is not yet complete and it is supposed to be completed. For them (audit firm) to finish up, they would want that some managers go on leave so that there is transparency, so that there is free release of information by juniors who might feel threatened. It is really a board issue. They have reported to me that it is something that they are doing to avoid victimisation and to enable some employees to give information freely and asked them (managers) to temporarily go on leave. That is what the board told me. It has nothing to do with me as a minister. It is for facilitation of the inquiry," said Minister Gumbo.
Zesa deputy board chairman Engineer Ben Rafemoyo said they had instructed the parastatal to release a Press statement clarifying the matter.
He referred The Herald to Zesa spokesperson Mr Fullard Gwasira, whose mobile phone was not accessible by the time of going to print.