THE Zimbabwe National Roads Administration (Zinara) board has lifted the suspension order imposed on four senior managers who were sent home last year on alleged misconduct charges, arguing “the cases might damage” the parastatal’s image.
BY RICHARD CHIDZA
Documents seen by NewsDay show that the move was in line with directives from Transport minister Joram Gumbo, although Wilfred Ramwi’s board had initially resolved to take the four senior officials to a disciplinary hearing.
Ramwi in July last year was tasked by the board to write a warning letter to the chief executive officer Nancy Masiyiwa-Chamisa “in light of Zinara’s loss of revenue as a result of the finance director’s conduct”.
And on July 25, Ramwi wrote to retired Bulawayo judge Selo Nare requesting that he takes up the position of chairperson of the adhoc disciplinary committee to conduct hearings against Precious Murove, Simon Taranhike, Peter Botere and Shadreck Matengabadza. Other members of the committee were Caleb Garura, Tafadzwa Sakarombe, Dennis Matimba and Morgan Changamire.
However, on August 1, an official by the name Patricia Bwerinofa wrote to colleagues at the parastatal ahead of a meeting with Gumbo, raising fears that Zinara’s case against Taranhike and Matengabadza in particular was weak.
“Latest developments are indicating that even the Taranhike/Matengabadza case’s merits are weak, questionable and doubtful. The Zinara code of conduct has gaps to the extent that the option to dismiss may not be possible,” Bwerinofa said. The email added: “There are very confidential details regarding Zinara/Infralink payments going back several years in the hands of the finance director and finance manager which may be used in their defence much to the detriment of the institution.”
Bwerinofa further argued that the media was already hostile towards Zinara based on little information “but would really blow the matter to unimaginable proportions on receiving more details”.
A recommendation to suspend the hearings was then made.
“There are details I cannot put down here which will be discussed directly tomorrow morning but my own view after following issues closely would be to proceed as follows: suspend the committee hearings until further notice and deal with the matter internally.”
After board meetings on August 4 and 18, Ramwi wrote to Gumbo notifying him of the resolution to withdraw the cases against the directors “to save ourselves from impending embarrassment.”
“It is the board’s view therefore, that the case be withdrawn, recall all four employees back to work as we continue monitoring and dealing with the case internally,” Ramwi wrote.
But then ministry secretary Machiwenyika Mapuranga reacted angrily to the development and in a August 30 letter on one Mrs Mujokoro did not hide his shock.
“It seems to me that both criminal and labour cases had been instituted against all four employees because there was prima facie reasons for so doing. Now we are told the cases have been withdrawn and we are not told the reasons why this has been done. One would have wanted the cases to run through the entire process to a definitive conclusion,” Mapuranga said in the letter copied to Gumbo.
Ramwi has also been sucked into a war of words with new secretary George Mlilo over the appointment of an investigation committee into a forensic audit done by Grant Thornton appointed by the Auditor-General’s office. While the Zinara boss last week claimed the committee had been set-up by the ministry, it has emerged the parastatal paid for the investigation.
According to a copy of the terms of reference, the committee was surprisingly given carte blanche to set its own fees.
“The committee will decide on remuneration and agree with the Zinara board chairman whose responsibility it will be to make the agreed payments.”