Business Crime & Courts Zimbabwe

Zimbabwe Chief Paymaster Suspended

•   Former perm sec employs 100 relatives
•   ‘Paymaster gives self salary increases’
•     Senior civil servants looting vehicles 


HARARE – Brighton Chiuzingo, the chief paymaster at the Government Salaries Service Bureau (SSB) has been suspended from work without pay  on allegations of  making arbitrary allowance and salary increases of 40% for himself and collecting back pay of $6 600 backdated to January 2018.
Chiuzingo allegedly collected his backpay last month and was suspended last Thursday by the Permanent Secretary for Public Service Commission (PSC), Ambassador Jonathan Wutawunashe.
Authoritative sources said Chiuzingo’s case is just a tip of the iceberg in a department that is notorious for corruption. Corruption was sanctioned by a former Permanent Secretary at PSC and a retired powerful civil servant at the same body, said sources.
Although Ambassador Wutawunashe asked The Mirror to put questions in writing, the questions were not responded to until the time of going to Press.
“If it is to do with Press, can you kindly put it in writing?” asked Ambassador Wutawunashe.
Chiuzingo denied that he was on suspension when The Mirror called him. He said he was away attending a funeral of a relative who died in South Africa. However, The Mirror has it on good authority that his suspension has been announced to the whole department.
A senior officer in the same department (name supplied) is for example understood to have walked away with four brand new state of the art double cab vehicles between 2012 and 2017; an Isuzu double cab, a Toyota D4D registration number ADA-1720; another Toyota D4D registration number ADA – 1721 (collected at the same time) and a Ford Range with just 1 000km mileage. Government employees are supposed to get one car after every five years.
Chiuzingo earned a salary of $1 261 and he allegedly increased his to $1 755; he had a representation allowance of $641 and he increased that to $899 and he increased his housing allowance from $574 to $764. He allegedly made all these alterations last month.
Sources said he increased the salaries to match two of his subordinates who earned more than him because they were connected to a former Permanent Secretary.
Sources said corruption at SSB is rampant in the staff car scheme, retirement packages, recruitment of staff, approval of loan deduction codes, double dipping on allowances and refurbishments of offices and buildings.
Sources also said Chiuzingo’s case would never have came out in the open had the new dispensation not changed the old guard at PSC.
Ambassador Wutawunashe and Vincent Hungwe (new PSC chairman) are said to have vowed to clean the mess.
Chiuzingo allegedly instructed his subordinates to enter the increases into the system without any supporting documents and the low level staff blew the whistle.
“I dont know above that I am organising a funeral of a relative who died in South Africa, you can talk to me on Monday,” said Chiuzingo. Sources told The Mirror that many senior officials are looting vehicles from Government; sometimes getting an average of one brand new vehicle every year. The practise had become common in the last five years.
Some senior civil servants are getting a car each from business units under them.
A former permanent secretary (name given) is alleged to have employed over a 100 relatives and friends without going through interviews. These relatives were soon elevated to senior positions in Government. The recruitments were done despite a Government freeze on recruitments.
The same Permanent secretary rehired mother (name supplied) after she had retired as a teacher and given her exit package. The mother worked for another five years and got a second retirement package, said a source.
The same Permanent Secretary also got her two of her children employed in the Ministry of Mines (name supplied) and the other in the Ministry of Lands (name supplied) and they hold lofty positions.
Sources said both were employed without going through interviews.
The Mirror was also told of two top Government officials who retired early this year on reaching 65 years of age; one from PSC and the other from the Registrar General’s office. Sources said their retirement papers were altered from retirement to retrenchment.
“If you leave Government on retrenchment you get a pension which is 75% of your salary. If you leave on retirement you get less. This is fraud involving these two top civilians. Anyone can dig their papers and verify these allegations.
“The two also have loans with Government amounting to $160 000 each but they both left without clearing their loans. Loans are supposed to be deducted from the lumpsume payments that civil servants get from their exit packages. At those ages how are they going to pay back the loans if they are not deducted from their lumpsome payments?” asked one source.
Sources said that at SSB, business people including banks pay bribes in order to get loan deduction codes.
“A senior staffer at SSB receives kickbacks and favours from institutions including banks, land barons and micro finance companies in order to approve loan deduction codes. Loan deductions codes are codes used to deduct money from civil servants on behalf of a creditor.
“This senior staffer gets foreign currency from banks when he goes to withdraw money. He has many residential stands given to him as kickbacks by land barons,” said a source.
Another source said that furniture in the kitchen and fittings at the SSB are renewed every two years as a way of getting kick-backs from suppliers and fittings companies. One woman (name given) at SSB graduated with a degree in 2018 and she was upgraded but her packages were backdated to 2017, according to investigations carried out by The Mirror.