The Zimbabwe National Road Administration board has taken over the day-to-day management of the authority to stamp out the rot in the debt-ridden parastatal, Transport and Infrastructural Development Minister Obert Mpofu said yesterday.
He said he had given the board permission to take over the day-to-day running of the parastatal.
This follows reports of alleged gross misappropriation of funds and lack of good corporate governance that left the authority with a cumulative debt of $40 million as of November last year.
Minister Mpofu said activities by the management needed close monitoring as it was seriously compromised.
“This is per instruction,” he said. “We’ve directed the board to monitor the activities of management on a regular basis as instructed by Cabinet. We as ministers have been directed to monitor the activities of boards on a regular basis and how else can you do that without getting the people that are expected to do that job away from the scenario.
“These are public institutions and the public is entitled to know what’s happening but not through mysterious informants. We want functional boards not passive boards. That’s why there’s activity in Zinara now. You can’t compare Zinara of now to that of yesterday. The little activity that’s happening in this economy is from our side.”
Zinara board chairman Albert Mugabe was taken to task over why board members were frequenting the authority’s Highlands offices on a daily basis and “having endless meetings.”
The frequent meetings were allegedly meant to siphon money from the authority.
“Your question insinuates that (Moses) Juma (acting Zinara CEO) is redundant,” Mugabe said.
“He’s very active. We’re there on oversight policy and make sure the direction we want to go is being followed. It’s his ship, he’s steering it in the direction we want to go but to say we’re running…”
Minister Mpofu interjected and said: “There’s nothing wrong with that. You’re doing it and I authorised it.”
Sources yesterday said the board had taken over the managerial roles to the extent of “approving day-to-day payments and instructing the authority where to buy fuel and other consumables from.”
“They’re also refusing to settle other accounts, which would be in very dangerous state in terms of age analysis and also in terms of the accounts lapsing. The board members are now giving instructions directly to management and overriding the acting CEO. He’s been rendered useless,” said the source.
Despite being in arrears, Zinara collects around $130 million annually from road access fees, vehicle licensing, transit fees and fuel levy.
It is understood that some of the board members were being issued with Zinara cars and ended up using them for their personal businesses.
“Some of the vehicles were involved in accidents and the management would cover it up,” said the source.
Corporate governance experts said it was “indecorous” and “dangerous for the board to run the parastatal as it could end up conniving with management to abuse funds and resources.
“Remember there have to be checks and balances and who will supervise the board?” said one expert.
“There’s to be a gap with the board formulating policies and giving guidance while management should implement those policies to add value to the shareholder investment. What if there’s connivance between the management and the board.”
The corruption at the parastatal has seen Zinara director of administration, Precious Murove, being implicated in a case in which the authority entered into a contract with Univern Enterprises in November 2012 for the supply of 40 graders valued at $8 million.
In an apparent violation of the Companies Act, Murove signed the contract on behalf of Univern while former chief executive Frank Chitukutuku represented Zinara.
Murove’s conduct raised ethical and procedural questions as the law stipulates that it is wrong for the receiver of a service to sign on behalf of the service provider.
It has also emerged that a company owned by Murove was offering cleaning services at Zinara offices, further casting doubt on the authority’s corporate governance.
Murove has been evasive since Monday, at one time saying he was preparing a response before refusing to comment on the matter.