Zinara abusing funds collected from tollgates

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CHENGETAI ZVAUYA

The Zimbabwe National Road Administration (ZINARA) has been accused of abusing funds it is collecting from tollgates countrywide and using them to pay huge salaries, allowances, and other expenses.

Appearing before the Parliamentary Portfolio on Public Accounts chaired by Tendai Biti, Zinara acting CEO, Mathlean Mujokoro, defended the management expenditure saying it was approved by the Zinara board and it was above board.

“The salaries and allowances are approved by the board and we have a huge wage bill because our staff have increased to over 600 since 2011,” Mujokoro explained.

She said the issues of allowances and salaries were a legacy which the new management inherited from the old. The wage bill is close to $1m a month.

Biti said the Auditor General had noted that Zinara’s expenditure (salaries, allowances and other expenses) amount to 10% of revenue, exceeding the 2,5 % of revenue requirement of Section 15 of the Roads Act.

Mujokoro said administration expenses needed to be analysed by its nature as the cost of revenue generation was considered as administration cost.

“Reconstitution of costs such as those relating to vehicle licensing, tolling and blitz enforcements was considered in 2017 so that they are classified as operational costs,” she said.

Biti recommended that Parliament should summon the former executives of Zinara, then led by Frank Chitukutuku (as CEO) to explain and justify how Zinara had been using the money it had collected in the past years to cover its expenditure, as Mujukoro was not in office at the time to explain how the money had been used since 2010.

The Committee noted that 10 tollgates under construction had taken too long to be completed, despite substantial investment amounting to $1,7m had been put into it. The tollgates were supposed to be operational by December 2016 but the last phase of work on them was carried out in April 2016. Since then the work has come to a standstill.