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Gumbo gets his way

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TRANSPORT minister Joram Gumbo got his wish after the Public Service Commission (PSC) buckled under pressure and agreed to reinstate top officials initially suspended on accusations of abuse of office, among other allegations.

BY RICHARD CHIDZA

In a letter to the ministry’s permanent secretary Machivenyika Mapuranga, the PSC chairperson Mariyawanda Nzuwah provided conditions under which senior government workers were suspended.

“Reference is made to your minutes dated September 8, 2017. Please be advised that in terms of section 42 (2) (a) of the Public Service Regulations 2000 as amended, ‘the disciplinary authority for the purpose of section 44, 47 and 48 shall be in the case of a member in a senior grade, the Commission.

“Section 48 (1) of the same regulations provides that a ‘disciplinary authority may at any time by written notice suspend a member from service who is suspected of misconduct or is subject to criminal investigation or prosecution if his continued attendance of work or continued performance of his duties or services as the case maybe..,” Nzuwah’s letter endorsed ‘confidential’ read.

The commission then ordered the ministry to cancel the suspensions arguing they had been irregular.

“In light of the above mentioned provisions, the suspensions of Messers [Eric] Gumbie [roads engineer] and [legal director Angeline] Karonga are null and void as they were not done by the correct disciplinary authority who in the members’ case is the Commission as the members fall in the senior grade. The secretary is hereby directed to cancel the suspensions dated August 25, 2017. Members should report for duty with immediate effect,” the PSC said.

Mapuranga had reportedly refused to reinstate the two, as well as top officials at the Zimbabwe National Roads Administration (Zinara), but Gumbo seemed to have prevailed after a flurry of meetings with among other people Chief Secretary to President and Cabinet Micheck Sibanda and Nzuwah.

Gumbo has reportedly been pushing for the suspensions to be lifted arguing he had not been consulted. Karonga and Gumbie stand accused of foisting companies in which they have interests on parastatals under their watch to provide services and goods, abuse of State funds as well as corruption running into millions meant for rural roads rehabilitation.

The minister’s actions have been criticised across the board as they were seen as condoning corruption at a time when President Robert Mugabe has publicly condemned graft blamed for poor service delivery across the country by government.

Since taking over as Transport minister in 2015, Gumbo brought back CMED boss Davison Mhaka, who had been suspended for sleeping on the job after a $3 million fuel scam. The money is still to be paid back. Gumbo also reinstated Civil Aviation Authority head David Chawota, who had also been suspended for graft-related misdemeanours. Chawota and Karonga according to insiders are — besides having a close social relationship — co-owners of a company that provides services and goods to the ministry.

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