SPB principal officer suspended

GOVERNMENT has continued with its painstaking bid to root out corruption at the State Procurement Board (SPB) and this week forced out principal officer Cledwyn Nyanhete, NewsDay can reveal.

BY RICHARD CHIDZA

Nyanhete’s has been placed on forced leave following a board meeting on Tuesday, according to a letter written by SPB executive chairman Buzwani Mothobi.

“At the meeting of April 5, 2016, members deliberated on the ongoing investigations and audits being undertaken by internal audit at the Office of the President and Cabinet and external tax consultants on the State Procurement Board.

“Members agreed that the exercise was a watershed of various human resources and financial management decisions that the board and other stakeholders shall make,” he said.

Mothobi said the exercise needed to be carried out independently without control or influence from employees that were responsible.

“Accordingly, the board resolved that the principal officer take forced leave on full benefits from April 7 until further notice to facilitate further investigations and audit without interference from officers that were responsible for the board affairs,” the letter, a copy of which NewsDay has in its possession and dated April 7, reads.

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According to the letter, Nyanhete was ordered not to conduct any business on behalf of the SPB during his suspension. The board also resolved that Nyanhete “shall only enter the SPB premises at the invitation of the board, communicate through the executive chairman’s office and will be required to promptly attend to issues as requested by the board”.

Last November, the government sacked then SPB executive chairman, Charles Kuwaza in a shake-up that insiders was said was meant to appease nervous multilateral institutions.

Mugabe, following his disputed poll victory in 2013, has changed tack and surprisingly agreed to engagement with the World Bank and International Monetary Fund, among other key international creditors with whom he had fallen out of favour with in the past 15 years.

“He (Kuwaza) had developed into an albatross on key government projects and last month it all came to a head,” an insider said.

Kuwaza was reportedly fired through an October 30 letter that gave him until December 31 to wind up business.
On November 10 last year, Mugabe announced a new board in the Government Gazette and ordered Kuwaza to vacate his office in central Harare.

Headed by Mothobi, a career diplomat, the board also includes former envoy to the United Nations Boniface Chidyausiku, retired soldier Joseph Mhakayakora, William Kurebgaseka, Chinhoyi University lecturer and procurement expert Michael Musanzikwa, Zimbabwe National Chamber of Commerce president Davison Norupiri, chairman of the Engineering Council of Zimbabwe Martin Manhuwa and industrialist-cum-educationist Ntombehle Moyo.

Kuwaza, a senior civil servant, previously served as Treasury permanent secretary. Following the explosion of the
Salarygate scandal early last year, he was reported to have been under investigation for tax evasion and last week State media reported Kuwaza was under investigation relating to the awarding of a $180 million solar tender to a Chinese company despite its failure to meet specifications.

Government is reportedly also using a “fine-toothcomb” regarding all tenders awarded by the SPB in the past few years.

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