Government launches NRZ audit

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Government has instituted an audit into the National Railways of Zimbabwe (NRZ)’s financial affairs following the suspension of the financial director of the ailing parastatal, Patrick Bondayi, in connection with procurement irregularities, an official has revealed.
The NRZ general manager, Mike Karakadzai, was speaking to journalists at a hurriedly organised press briefing — also attended by the organisation’s senior management – apparently to do as damage control following a series of stories in the media painting a dire situation at the parastatal.
Karakadzai admitted that the briefing had been prompted by a story in our sister paper The Zimbabwe Independent exposing the $10 million dollar fraud.
He confirmed that Bondayi was on suspension to facilitate investigations into allegations “contained in an anonymous letter ‘’ that was written by a whistle-blower to the NRZ board, which has since been dissolved.
“Last year, during the board of directors’ tour of duty, an anonymous letter was written for the board’s attention alleging a number of irregularities in the finance and administration division (headed by Bondayi) and the procurement branch.
“Following the anonymous letter, a fact-finding enquiry was convened last year but the director objected to the composition of the enquiry saying some of its members were his subordinates and he could not tolerate a situation where he would be investigated by his juniors.
“We registered the objection he had raised and continued with the enquiry. The director did a separate report and we sent the report of the fact-finding enquiry and that of the director to the Minister of Transport (Nicholas Goche) for adjudication,” Karakadzai told journalists.
“The minister decided to seek an independent opinion; that of the Comptroller and Auditor General, who in turn assigned his own representative.
“So we have had an external auditor for the past three weeks and as soon as they have completed the process, the Auditor General will report to the minister who will then give us direction.’’
Initially, Karakadzai had refused to shed light on the nature of the allegations levelled against Bondayi but buckled under pressure from NewsDay reporters and revealed that they had to do with “procurement and supplies”.
Karakadzai also dismissed as untrue reports that the NRZ could have procured 29 coaches from China.
“We were promised four trains, two commuter ones and two inter-city by a Chinese company for user-trial purpose. They said they wanted us to use these trains, in other words, test them, in case we wanted to buy such trains. So these are user-trial units which have been misconstrued for the actual procurement of 29 coaches,’’ he said.
Karakadzai said the Chinese company had promised to deliver the consignment by next month but had since indicated that this would no longer be possible because of certain unspecified challenges.