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Perm sec grilled over corruption

TINASHE MAKICHI

The Zimbabwe Anti-Corruption Commission (Zacc) has interrogated Energy and Power Development permanent secretary, Gloria Magombo, pending the finalisation of her corruption allegations docket, it has emerged.

Magombo becomes the second senior official to be grilled by Zacc after the anti-graft body last week interviewed Health and Child Care deputy minister John Mangwiro for allegedly arm twisting the National Pharmaceutical Company to award a US$5.6m tender to Youth Health Care for the supply of Covid-19 laboratory equipment, reagents and consumables.

Zacc spokesperson, John Makamure, confirmed to Business Times that Magombo had been called in for questioning by the anti-graft body but declined to disclose the allegations being levelled against the top government official.

“I can confirm that she was called in for a warned and cautioned statement. The Commission is waiting for certain vital information before finalising the docket,” Makamure told Business Times.

Efforts to get a comment from Magombo were futile. Calls to her mobile phone continuously went unanswered. Questions were sent to her via text messages and WhatsApp.

But she had not responded by the time of going to print.

Although Makamure refused to disclose the nature of the allegations, it was gathered that Magombo is facing allegations of salary double dipping.

Allegations are that she was drawing a salary from the country’s energy regulator, the Zimbabwe Energy Regulatory Authority (ZERA) despite her appointment to the Energy ministry.

Magombo was the chief executive officer of ZERA, until her appointment as permanent secretary of the Ministry of Energy and Power Development in 2018.

Well-placed sources told Business Times this week that she continued to receive her salary from ZERA and another one from the government as permanent secretary.

The rationale behind this, sources said, was that Magombo’s contract as ZERA CEO was lapsing in 2022, so she had taken positions on loans among other obligations based on the ZERA salary which was going to end two years from now.

It is understood that she then bargained with the government that she wanted to serve but she had made commitments based on the ZERA salary.

Business Times reported last year that Zacc had interviewed then ZERA acting CEO Eddington Mazambani on Magombo’s alleged double dipping.

The investigators wanted to know why ZERA was still paying Magombo’s salary when she was now an employee of the Public Service Commission. The probe seemed to have been abandoned until Zacc pounced on Magombo last week.

It is also understood that former Energy and Power Development Minister, Fortune Chasi, has also been sucked into double dipping allegations.

The allegations are that Chasi was getting allowances from both government and parastatals under his purview such as ZESA and ZERA during his tenure as the Minister.

It is understood there has been a push to get Chasi arrested over the matter.

Business Times is reliably informed that some directors at the ministry, who are facing double dipping allegations, were the ones now implicating the former minister.

Chasi rubbished the allegations saying this was just a plot to tarnish his image and he was prepared to have his day in court.

“It was not in my province to look for allowances from any parastatal. Not even once did I give an instruction to anyone to get money from both the ministry and parastatals,” Chasi told Business Times.

“This duty falls squarely on the permanent secretary of the ministry and in this case (Gloria) Magombo.

I don’t know when and where I am alleged to have done this. I will be very happy to answer the law on the matter.”

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