Mashudu Netsianda, Senior Reporter
THE Minister of Transport and Infrastructural Development, Engineer Joel Biggie Matiza has dissolved the Zimbabwe National Roads Authority (Zinara) board.
He said the entity’s board, whose management is at the centre of allegations of corruption and abuse of office, was dissolved on Tuesday.
According to the Zinara website, the dissolved board comprises Mr Wilfred Ramwi (chairperson). Other members are Dr Mercy Manyuchi, Mr Aaron
Tapfuma, Mrs Lucy Furamera, Mr Fidelis Ngorora and Engineer Goodwell Mapako.
The board also included former Victoria Falls mayor Mr Sifiso Mpofu, Mr Aaron Mazingaiso and Mrs Patricia Bwerinofa.
Eng Matiza made the revelations during a tour of the National Railways of Zimbabwe (NRZ) facilities in Bulawayo yesterday.
He was commenting on the delays in the commissioning of the Plumtree-Mutare highway.
“The issue of the Plumtree-Mutare highway is being looked at and I will soon meet relevant authorities in that regard. However, I have just dissolved the Zinara board as we need to put things together and start afresh. The board was dissolved on Tuesday,” he said.
Over the past few years, Zinara has been under fire from various stakeholders over its failure to upgrade roads in several parts of the country despite the fact that the entity collects toll fees from the motoring public daily.
Eng Matiza said he has since delegated his deputy, Cde Fortune Chasi to deal with corruption at Zinara, a key parastatal under his portfolio.
“I have assigned my Deputy Minister to investigate the entity including issues of abuse of office. The Deputy Minister will oversee the establishment and maintenance of corporate governance at Zinara and its alignment to statutory requirements,” he said.
Eng Matiza said his Ministry has put in place measures aimed at restructuring Zinara to ensure that it is more effective.
Zinara chief executive Engineer Nancy Masiyiwa was in June suspended over what insiders say are frivolous and laughable charges including that she called one of the senior managers a “Satanist”.
However, investigations have since shown that the principal reason for her suspension is linked to her fight against corruption at the parastatal.
It is believed that a forensic audit report by an international audit firm Grant Thornton, which exposed the rot at the State enterprise, contained damaging information regarding the awarding of several road tender projects and even the Auditor General’s Office was not favoured with the copy of the report.
Eng Masiyiwa’s hearing last week opened a can of worms as it emerged that the parastatal is refusing to release the forensic audit report in question.
Last year, the Government set up an independent probe team to look into the operations of Zinara after the Grant Thornton forensic audit unearthed a number of questionable business transactions prejudicial to the State.
One of the questionable transactions exposed by the audit was the Plumtree-Bulawayo-Harare-Mutare project implemented by Group Five of South Africa at a cost of $206 million. The project was bankrolled by the Development Bank of Southern Africa (DBSA).
The report findings compiled by the five-member independent committee, revealed that Zinara lost more than $119 million to two of its managers through shady deals and unprocedural tenders.
The committee was appointed last year in October by former Transport and Infrastructural Development Minister Joram Gumbo to investigate all projects that were undertaken by Zinara in the five-year period between 2011 and 2016, including the $206 million rehabilitation of the Plumtree-Mutare highway, after the forensic audit revealed financial rot at the parastatal.
On Tuesday, former Zimbabwe National Roads Administration (Zinara) acting chief executive Moses Juma was jailed for effective two years after being convicted of criminal abuse of office.
Juma was first arrested in 2016 but was released from police custody at the instigation of former Vice President Phelekezela Mphoko.
The former VP allegedly stormed Avondale Police Station and ordered the release of Juma and Davison Norupiri. — @mashnets