Tuesday, 28 April 2020

RG'S TWO CARS IMPOUNDED BY ZACC


A staff row at the Registrar-General’s Office has sucked in the Zimbabwe Anti-Corruption Commission (ZACC) after chief accountant, Mr Peter Bwanya, accused Registrar-General Mr Clement Masango of embezzlement over motor vehicles while the latter denies all wrongdoing and says Mr Bwanya is putting up a smokescreen since he is fighting disciplinary action over alleged incompetence and misbehaviour.

But ZACC has since impounded two vehicles — a Ford Ranger and an Isuzu KB250 — from the Central Registry and has launched investigations into allegations of abuse of office and unprocedural procurement of vehicles by Mr Masango.

ZACC’s action followed a complaint by Mr Bwanya, who accused Mr Masango of embezzlement of funds and the disappearance of six Isuzu KB250 single cab vehicles that he said the department had procured, but were not delivered

In his letter to Secretary for Home Affairs and Cultural Heritage, Mr Aaron Nhepera, Mr Bwanya said only five of 11 vehicles bought by the department had been delivered while mystery surrounded the whereabouts of a Toyota Land Cruiser that he said the Central Registry had bought.
However, Mr Masango has launched a scathing attack on Mr Bwanya and four officials from ZACC who impounded the vehicles.

In his response to Mr Nhepera, Mr Masango said Mr Bwanya was making the allegations to divert attention from pending disciplinary cases against him. He accused the four ZACC officials of colluding with Mr Bwanya to embarrass him.

Mr Masango said his department bought only five vehicles out of the intended 11 after Treasury revoked the 1:1 parity between the Zimbabwe dollar to the United States dollar, while plans to procure the Land Cruiser were abandoned after the authority to buy it was rescinded.

He said there was paper trail for all the transactions and Mr Bwanya should have verified this if he was acting in good faith.

ZACC spokesperson, Commissioner John Makamure, said: “I can confirm that we are investigating that case, but cannot divulge details now.”

Contacted for comment, Mr Masango confirmed the development, but said the intervention of ZACC was “strange and unprecedented” since normally there was first an audit which would recommend a course of action.

He referred further questions to Mr Nhepera, who said he was aware of the case, but promised to comment substantively after meeting ZACC officials.

“Why don’t you wait because there is a likelihood that the involvement of ZACC was premature? I was dealing with this matter administratively and I do not know how ZACC came in. But I am going to meet them,” said Mr Nhepera.

In his letter dated February 13, Mr Bwanya said on September 14, 2018 payment of $596 037 to the Central Mechanical Equipment Department (CMED) for 11 vehicles was made, without procurement authority. 

He said only five vehicles were subsequently delivered together with a Ford Ranger, whose purchase was allegedly

done at the behest of Mr Masango.

Mr Bwanya suspected that a Land Cruiser was bought despite the fact that the then Secretary for Home Affairs Mr Melusi Matshiya, had rescinded his authority.

In response, Mr Masango said the decision to buy the 11 vehicles was done well before he joined the department.

He said the department requested its bank to secure foreign currency upon realising that the Reserve Bank of Zimbabwe (RBZ) was struggling to do so due to other pressing national requirements. But before the transaction could be concluded, the intermarket rate was introduced at US$1: $2,51.

This meant the forex availed by their bank was no longer enough to buy the intended vehicles.

Said Mr Masango: “We then directed that the US$173 037,50 be used to purchase one Ford Ranger at a cost of US$78 505 instead of one Isuzu KB250 double cab stated in the initial order.

“The balance of US$95 291, including the local component, was then used to purchase five Isuzu KB250 single cab vehicles.” 

He said allegations of flouting tender procedures had no substance since procurement was done through CMED, which had the requisite authority.

On the Land Cruiser vehicle, Mr Masango said no funds were used to buy it since authority had been rescinded.

He said the chief accountant had been served with warnings of incompetence and misbehaviour, which to date he had not disputed.

“What he surprisingly omitted to mention is the fact that he has also three charges of misconduct all pending against him and that your office is processing,” said Mr Masango.

On the conduct of ZACC officials, he said there was no justification to impound the two vehicles as there would be no prejudice if they had remained with the department.

“The inescapable motive on the part of these ZACC officials was obviously to cause inconvenience and embarrassment on me before staff and the public which they succeeded to do, as they seized and drove away the vehicles in full view of staff,” he said. Herald

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