Zinara splashes millions on hiring luxury vehicles

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TINASHE MAKICHI

The Zimbabwe National Roads Administration (Zinara) could be splurging up to $2 million each year on hiring luxurious vehicles for its top management and board executives, it has been established.

Despite the dismissal of some top executives over corruption allegations and gross funds mismanagement,  it has emerged that the current executive is still milking the road fund administrator.

Information gathered by Business Times notes that Zinara is hiring top of the range vehicles for its chairman Michael Madhanha and management at a cost of close to $1 000 daily through a private car hiring firm.

Zinara has been under the spotlight in recent times on issues relating to corporate governance and abuse of office. It is alleged that the parastatals spend about 12 months paying full salary and benefits concurrently for two chief executives – suspended Nancy Masiyiwa-Chamisa and acting Mathlene Mujokoro.

An audit report presented to Parliament’s Public Accounts Committee by the Auditor-General shows that Zinara spent a whooping ZWL$60 000 on the female managers’ hairstyles, including a payment of ZWL$25 000 to one hair salon.

A further ZWL$4 000 was used to buy and install gym equipment at the senior executives’ houses and also paid for executives food hampers and entertainment.

Contacted for comment, Madhanha said the hiring of vehicles was not only being done for himself but the executives as a whole citing that the road fund administrator was facing challenges relating to the procurement of secure vehicles for use.

“Zinara has been facing procurement challenges of late and that is what I was told. I can tell you there are no cars at Zinara. They have been hiring cars.

“As chairman, I cannot use my personal vehicle to do Zinara work so whether they have been giving me pool vehicles or they have been hiring for me to do my work, that is none of my business,” said Madhanha.

He however tried to link the efforts by this publication to seek comment from him as part of a plan by some elements to tarnish his otherwise clean image.

 “I am aware of efforts by some elements to derail my efforts to clean up Zinara of all forms of corruption. I know they are fighting me but they will not be successful.”

A recent audit report for Zinara exposed massive financial abuse where ZWL$142 million was paid to illegally hired road maintenance contractors.

The audit done by Grant Thornton, covered the period between 2011 and 2016 when Zinara was being led by former chief executive Frank Chitukutuku.

The report exposed a massive abuse of funds by the road administrator where during the period under review, between 2011 to march 2016, Zinara collected ZWL$589,2 million and only disbursed ZWL$160 million (27,3 percent) and gobbled close to ZWL$428,4 million (72,7 percent).

In 2016, Grant Thornton also exposed a cocktail of irregularities such as weak internal controls on the road fund, which resulted in losses of millions of dollars involving scams where senior executives allegedly manipulated the parastatals’ more than 59 bank accounts to siphon public money for personal gain.

Similarly, another audit report for the period ending December 31 2017 reported weak internal control systems, which resulted in Zinara disbursing millions of dollars to provinces through the parastatals employees’ personal bank accounts.

President Mnangagwa has since assumption of office spoken out against corruption, saying anyone caught engaging in such practice would face the full wrath of the law.

He has since set up a special anti-corruption task force to assist in the speedy prosecution of people suspected to be involved in corruption.

President Mnangagwa has vowed to “kick all the thieves” out of government, lamenting the adverse impact of corruption on efforts to revive the country’s economy