THE Zimbabwe Anti-Corruption Commission (Zacc) was last week grilled by the Parliamentary Public Accounts Committee for spending $2,4 million on three upmarket houses in Harare without verifying owners of the properties or demanding title deeds.
BY VENERANDA LANGA
The committee heard that the houses were occupied by Zacc officials without the consent of the commission. This was revealed in a 2016 audit report by Auditor-General (AG) Mildred Chiri.
MPs questioned Zacc secretary Silence Pondo over three houses in Harare’s leafy suburbs worth $2,4 million that were occupied by Zacc staff in 2011 without a nod from the commission.
“The AG reports that three houses with a value of $2,4 million were allocated to commission employees without title deeds or documents. Did you manage to locate the title deeds and who are the owners?” Mabvuku-Tafara MP James Maridadi (MDC-T) asked.
Pondo claimed that Zacc had now located the title deeds, adding that the three houses were registered with the Reserve Bank of Zimbabwe.
One of the houses was allocated to former Zacc chief executive officer Ngonidzashe Gumbo who was arrested and jailed, while the other house was allocated to Sukai Tongogara, the current Zacc general manager (prevention, corporate governance and external relations). It was not specified which other manager occupied the third house.
Bulawayo South MP Eddie Cross (MDC-T) raised a red flag, saying the prices of the houses were exaggerated.
“A figure of $2,4 million for three houses means that each house costs close to $800 000 and these are very posh houses on large properties,” Cross said.
Pondo said the houses were located in the leafy suburbs of Highlands, Rolf Valley in Chisipite and Strathaven.
He added that there was no policy to support the issuance of the houses to the employees, adding that Zacc only discovered that the three houses were issued to the top management after Chiri’s audit report.
Barbara Gandawa, the Zacc head of risk and audit, said the houses in question were bought by the Reserve Bank of Zimbabwe in 2009 for the employees in question, but the circumstances in which the RBZ ended up buying the houses were still being investigated.
Before Gumbo was arrested, he was also engaged in another scandal, where irregular payments of $1,7 million were made to an estate agent who happened to be his daughter.
It was later discovered that the building in question was acquired for $1,2 million, resulting in Zacc being prejudiced of $400 000.
After Gumbo’s conviction, the property was forfeited to the State.