BY RICHARD CHIDZA
TRANSPORT minister Joram Gumbo has literally been fiddling while corruption and abuse of State resources flourished under his watch since taking over the ministry in 2015.
The Transport minister has over the past few weeks been reportedly shuttling between different government departments trying to have senior officials suspended on charges of graft re-instated, an accusation he denied.
“I have not been meeting the chairman (Mariyawanda Nzuwah, Public Service Commission) to have anyone re-instated. These are meetings we have every time. People have a tendency to make up stories. I have indeed also met the secretary (to President and Cabinet, Misheck Sibanda) for other business. Those people were suspended by the PSC and not me. Their issues have not been brought to my attention,” Gumbo said last week.
High level government sources, however, told this paper that Gumbo was scared that if these officials were forced out “they could sing”.
“He is fighting to stop dirty linen from being washed in public. If any of those people are forced out, it could open a can of worms,” NewsDay heard.
Principal director Eric Gumbi and legal adviser to Gumbo’s ministry Angeline Karonga were suspended for, among other issues, fleecing government through shadowy companies.
Gumbi said he had not requested help from Gumbo to regain his job.
“Please, it is unfair for me to comment on whether the minister is trying to have me back or not. I have not requested to be reinstated,” Gumbi said.
In public, President Robert Mugabe has declared zero tolerance to corruption, but for his lieutenants its business as usual.
After taking over from Obert Mpofu as Transport minister, Gumbo promised to clean up the notoriously corrupt Vehicle Inspection Department (VID), but is yet to crack the whip on corrupt officials.
In late 2013, the CMED lost $3 million to a fuel scam that reportedly involved its boss, Davison Mhaka. Mhaka was suspended, but brought back by Gumbo. Up to date there is still no indication of how government will recoup this massive loss.
At the Civil Aviation Authority of Zimbabwe, chief executive David Chawota was also suspended on corruption charges, but Gumbo moved in and fired three senior managers who had co-operated with police on the issue.
Chawota got his job back at Gumbo’s behest, but the three managers remain in the cold.
“I am on leave and can only talk to you next Wednesday. Please let me rest,” Chawota said when NewsDay called him for comment last week.
The CAAZ board led by Allana Moosa resigned enmasse in November 2015 after Gumbo reinstated Chawota and halted internal investigations at the aviation body.
The situation is not any better at the Zimbabwe National Road Administration where technical director Moses Juma was suspended for his role in contracts that raised red flags from external auditors Grant Thorton, but Gumbo allegedly ordered the board to reinstate Juma “because I was not consulted”.