BY VENERANDA LANGA
ZESA Holdings yesterday came under fire in Parliament over various cash donations the power utility made to the ruling Zanu PF party at a time the company was recording huge losses.
Josh Chifamba, the group’s chief executive officer, told the Paurina Mpariwa-led Public Accounts Committee he had no choice, but to donate to Zanu PF as the ruling party.
According to the Auditor-Genral Mildred Chiri’s 2016 audit report, Zesa had budgeted to use $300 000 for donations, but ended up spending $1,1 million, mostly in unauthorised donations.
Zesa’s corporate social responsibility limit was set at $934 000
First to fire salvos at Chifamba was Priscilla Misihairabwi Mushonga (MDC proportional representative).
“The AG’s report says you had budgeted for $300 000, but you ended up going over by $934 000, which is three times above what the board approved for donations, and you did not go back to the board to say that you exceeded the limits,” she said.
Chifamba and his officials said they donated $150 000 to a United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organisation workshop, bought a $29 000 bus for a school for the disabled, donated $23 000 to the University of Zimbabwe’s engineering department and paid the parent Energy ministry $120 000 for its supervisory
The Zesa boss then conceded that the parastatal had donated to the ruling Zanu PF party’s conferences, where it also had an exhibition stand.
Misihairabwi-Mushonga then asked: “What were the basic criteria for you to fund an organisation, because if you fund a political party like Zanu PF, then I can also ask you to donate to my own political party and also to exhibit during the conference because I would assume your focus for exhibitions was that there are loads of people?”
Chifamba replied: “According to the Zesa Act, I am not allowed to do so, but I might end up doing so because if you are a ruling party, you are funded.”
He said he approved donations not exceeding $40 000 while those between $40 000 and $150 000 required approval by the board, and anything else above that figure need needing approval by the parent ministry.
Mabvuku-Tafara MP James Maridadi (MDC-T) queried how Zesa could afford to fund Zanu PF, and pay for loads of congratulatory advertisements to politicians when its employees were demonstrating for better pay.
Eddie Cross also queried how Zesa could afford the donations when the company was recording losses.
Chifamba told the court he was merely acting on directives from the ministry.
In 2016, Zesa registered a loss position of $48,1 million.