The Sunday Mail
Government will not hesitate to cancel all existing fraudulent joint venture deals between the Zimbabwe National Roads Administration (Zinara) and any private firms as efforts to cleanse the organisation of maladministration gather pace.
The road authority has been under the spotlight over a number of deals, some of which have been reportedly concluded outside the confines of national law, in the process prejudicing the country of millions in potential revenue.
An audit report on Zinara by Grant Thornton has revealed alarming levels of dereliction of duty bordering on corruption, which had rendered the authority incapable of carrying out its mandate diligently as some deals were designed to line some individuals’ pockets.
The new dispensation, however, has set the tone for the re-aligning of Zinara to its co-business and efficiency with President Emmerson Mnangagwa telling the 2018 Annual Chiefs Conference in December last year that Government will make sure that toll fees will be redirected to road rehabilitation.
To date, an extensive road rehabilitation programme has been instituted that is aimed at improving transportation and logistics as a key enabler of Government’s Vision2030 through which Zimbabwe is targeting to become an upper-middle income economy.
In that scheme of things, flawless movement of goods and passengers becomes central to ensure uninterrupted business operations.
As more and more skeletons continue to tumble from the Zinara audit, Transport and Infrastructural Development Minister Joel Biggie Matiza, last week told The Sunday Mail Business that Government will not hesitate to knockdown any fraudulent joint venture deals should any emerge.
A perusal of the report shows that Zinara, between 2011 and 2016, parceled out US$71 million to 17 private companies which, however, failed to deliver on the work that they had been contracted to do.
There are also several instances of private companies having been contracted, without going to tender, to do work, a process that ordinarily should have gone through tender procedures in adherence to the law.
The new administration has frowned at such willful disregard of critical ethos of good corporate governance, vowing to bring to justice those caught on the wrong side of the law.
Said Minister Matiza; “Well, there is a review (of Zinara Joint Ventures — JVs), some of the JVs we need to really look at them and what was really going on (in them being signed.
“Those that were done without going to tender, if they are still there — because some of the issues that are being raised are historical, we are going to make corrective measures.”
The Minister also highlighted that the new Zinara board and management, has been going round the provinces checking on the provinces’ needs resulting in the current work that is being done on many roads.
“. . . we have moved, I included and the Zinara board, in each province, meeting the roads authorities who are mandated now to contract out, discussing about the requirements to make sure that there is transparency and financial accountability.
“We hope that by the time we finish, which is very soon, we need a substantive CEO to come in, and that’s a process the board is entrusted with,” he said.
Minister Matiza said this work is the culmination of careful planning by the new dispensation and the President had taken it upon himself to pledge that under his watch, Zinara will do its job efficiently.
“What people forget is that there has been action since the new dispensation came on board, one of those was to dismiss the existing board, to pave way for the new board that can restructure, organise properly the institution,” said the Minister.
“And when the board came in, people don’t talk about these issues, Zinara was not doing its core business. It was now doing other businesses,” he said.
Addressing traditional leaders at the 2018 Annual Chiefs Conference in Kadoma, President Mnangagwa said Government was redirecting Zinara back to its co-business.
“There is an issue that was raised here relating to road maintenance,” said President Mnangagwa.
“If you look at most roads they are being refurbished and most of our roads were in a bad state . . . We then sought to understand how our money from tollgates was being utilised and other collections from Zinara.
“We now know where that money which has been missing for several years is and that is the money we are using for this project. We are going to recover some of the funds that went missing in that regard,” said the President last December.