Under pressure President Emmerson Mnangagwa yesterday suspended the Zimbabwe Electricity Supply Authority (Zesa) Holdings executive chair Sydney Gata and the entire Zesa board pending investigations into allegations of corruption.
Mnangagwa has been under pressure to prove his commitment in dealing with corruption.In a statement last night, Mnangagwa also directed the Zimbabwe Anti-Corruption Commission (Zacc) to investigate the corruption allegations and produce a report within a month.
"The President has also directed the chairperson of Zacc, Justice Loice Matanda-Moyo to immediately undertake thorough investigations into the following issues: 1. The allegations levelled against the executive chairman (Gata) by Minister of Energy and Power Development Fortune Chasi. 2. Any other underlying corrupt activities bedeviling Zesa board members and the electricity sector as a whole," the statement released by the Chief Secretary to the President and Cabinet, Misheck Sibanda, read.
"The president expects Zacc to complete its investigations as well as tabling its report on the findings within four weeks."
The vicious turf war between Gata and Chasi over the corruption allegations had escalated to Mnangagwa's office after Gata wrote a letter to the president denying allegations of abuse of office and corruption levelled against him.
Gata was suspended to pave way for investigations into his alleged corrupt activities but defied the move, saying only Mnangagwa could fire him and had continued reporting for duty unabated.
He also refused to appear before a disciplinary hearing which Chasi had instituted, saying he cannot be tried by his juniors.
Gata last week purportedly suspended the eight board members in a tit-for-tat move.
He is being accused of, among other things, diverting five Zesa vehicles to personal use, including one he allegedly gave to his wife and abusing Zesa resources to operate a gold mine.
However, in a July 31 letter to Sibanda, Gata said his case had been treated unfairly as he had not been given a chance to respond to the allegations before Chasi made them public.
He said he had suffered undue embarrassment as a result of the allegations.
"Firstly, I regret to advise you that since our meeting, the honourable minister (Chasi) has called another meeting with some board members, to suspend me which was attended by a Mr Saidi Sangala who attended as the secretary of the board, even though he is on remand pending trial for corruption and is restricted from visiting Zesa and the ministry," he said in the letter titled Response to media reports on allegations by the minister relating to my conduct as the executive of Zesa Holdings. "At the end of that meeting, deputy chairperson one Tsitsi Makovha issued me with a letter advising me to go on forced leave. As your appointed principal accounting officer at Zesa, it would have been fair for me to be given an opportunity by the minister to respond prior to his publishing of the allegations."
Gata then went on to give his side of the story, denying the allegations and at in one instance said the parties which were said to have blown millions of dollars had been held at the request of workers who had opted for them instead of food hampers.
He had been accused of using ZW$10 million on two Christmas parties in Hwange and Kariba, with ZW$1,2 million said to have gone towards alcohol alone.
The total cost was only ZW$6 million for 3 000 staff and their families or US$20 per family.
Gata also denied the rest of the allegations including using Zesa funds to pay a US$4 000 bill for a solar system installed at his Borrowdale home, paying ghost workers and using Zesa funds for South Africa trips as well as interfering with disciplinary processes.