Anti-graft crack team swoops on Red Cross board

March 25, 2021

TINASHE MAKICHI

The Special Anti-Corruption Unit (SACU) is investigating the Zimbabwe Red Cross Society (ZRCS) board members following their decision to appoint Elias Hwenga as substantive secretary general despite him facing obstruction of justice allegations which are before the courts, it has emerged.

Last year, Hwenga was arrested by the Zimbabwe Anti-Corruption Commission (ZACC) while he was acting secretary general.

However, the current ZRCS board of directors- Edson Mlambo (president), Dubilizwe Mpofu, David Chaliyanyika, Paradzai Dakwa, and Nicholas Mbara -went on to appoint Hwenga on a substantive basis.

It is understood that Hwenga was arrested after allegedly firing subordinates who had exposed corruption within the organisation to ZACC.

Well-placed sources told Business Times that investigations are underway after a report was made by complainants citing that Hwenga’s substantive appointment was “suspicious and stinks to high heaven”.

“Some of the board members and part of the management are not happy with the substantive appointment of Hwenga as secretary general. He was appointed despite facing obstruction of justice allegations involving his subordinates. A report has been filed with SACU and investigations are underway,” one source said.

SACU head Thabani Mpofu told Business Times: “We received the report but the matter is still under investigation.”

Hwenga could not be reached for comment while ZRCS spokesperson Stambuli Kim had not responded to questions sent to him by the time of going to print. His mobile number went unanswered yesterday.

According to court papers, sometime in May 2020, some ZRCS employees received anonymous information through their emails which allegedly unearthed rampant corruption and they forwarded it to ZACC.

Following the submission of that information, ZACC launched a probe on three senior officials among them ZRCS board president, Mlambo, secretary-general Maxwell Phiri and Midlands provincial chairperson Vutete Mazorodze Hapanyengwi who are all facing fraud charges at the courts.

The complainants in the case—Davison Mutikori, Norman Takawira, Bernard Mupandira, Morris Machawira who are former ZRCS managers and Fidelis Muyedziwa—were fired following their participation in interviews during the ZACC probe, which led to the arrest of the three bosses.

After they were arrested, Mlambo and Phiri then appointed Hwenga as the acting secretary-general who then signed letters which terminated the contracts of the four managers.

The complainants, according to court papers, were served with suspension notices, called for a hearing, but the charges were later withdrawn before they responded to the allegations and were fired instead.

According to the papers, almost every employee who was interviewed by ZACC during investigations on the bosses was fired as their superiors suspected that they had leaked information which resulted in them being investigated.

There are also allegations that the tip off to ZACC was written by one or more employees at ZRCS since it contained internal information which was only known to employees.

ZRCS is also in turmoil over the re-election of Mlambo, who is battling corruption charges at the Magistrates Court with some officials citing that the poll was conducted unconstitutionally.

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