Energy Perm sec under ZACC probe

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TINASHE MAKICHI

The Zimbabwe Anti-Corruption Commission (Zacc) is probing Gloria Magombo, the permanent secretary of the Ministry of Energy and Power Development on allegations that she has been drawing a salary from the Zimbabwe Regulatory Authority (ZERA) despite her permanent secretary appointment.

Until her appointment in September last year, Magombo was the CEO of ZERA. Information obtained by Business Times showed that ZACC last
week interviewed the acting Zera chief executive, Eddington Mazambani, on why Magombo was withdrawing a salary from the energy regulator.

Insiders say Magombo has been receiving salaries from both the government and ZERA since her appointment as permanent secretary.
Magombo took over from Partson Mbiriri following a reshuffle of permanent secretaries by President Emmerson Mnangagwa.

Mazambani confirmed ZACC’s inquiry, though insisting that the continued payment of a salary to the former CEO was above board as it had the blessing of the government and the Public Services Commission (PSC).

“Last week I met ZACC officials who were working on that matter and we gave them all the paperwork which showed that the payment of a salary to the former chief executive was above board,” Mazambani said.

“They also spoke to the PSC chairperson who also told them that the salary payment was above board. The payment of a permanent secretary salary from the government is reversed every month, so she doesn’t pick that one up, but the arrangement ended in September and now she is going to get her salary from the government.”

He said ZERA would continue to contribute to a fund which was established by the government to pay salaries for permanent secretaries. There is
a plan by the government, as spelt out in the 2019 mid-term fiscal policy review on skills retention, that aims to ensure better packages for permanent secretaries.

According to Mazambani, “the ZERA accountant is the one who was dealing with Magombo’s matter and he has all the paperwork regarding the request by the government through the PSC and our parent Ministry to come up with that arrangement. There was also a correspondence from the Office of the President and Cabinet which questioned the arrangement initially and was told why it was being done.

Explaining the rationale behind the arrangement, Mazambi said “when Magombo was still chief executive here, she had a contract that was lapsing in 2022, so she had taken some loans among other obligations based on the
ZERA salary which was going to end in 2022. She then bargained with the government that though she wanted to serve as a permanent secretary,
she had made some commitments based on the ZERA salary. She and the government then came to an understanding that ZERA would continue
to support the salary of Permanent Secretary Magombo.”

When contacted, Magombo said contract details with her employer were confidential and referred all questions to the PSC chairman, Vincent Hungwe who confirmed that Magombo was drawing a salary from ZERA and that he was not aware whether Magombo was getting a salary
from the government.

“The expectation was that ZERA would support the government by way of meeting her salary for a year, by which time the government would have put arrangements in place that would improve the condition of service for critical staff,” Hungwe said. ZACC has also been investigating ZERA’s
award of a tender for the construction of its head office by a Chinese firm.