BY DESMOND CHINGARANDE
ZESA Holdings executive chairman Sydney Gata has bounced back at the power utility after President Emmerson Mnangagwa waived his suspension pending finalisation of investigations into the misconduct allegations which led to his ouster last month.
Mnangagwa directed that Gata be allowed to carry out his duties and also gave the nod for the suspended Zesa board members to continue in their positions until finalisation of the investigations.
In a statement, Chief Secretary to the President and Cabinet Misheck Sibanda said: “His excellency the President, being cognisant of the fact that Zesa is at the epicentre of the economic activity of the nation and that it would not be desirable for this entity to operate below optimal efficiency due to lack of leadership at its helm. His Excellency has directed that the executive chairman of Zesa Dr S Gata while investigations are on-going, be allowed to carry on his responsibility as executive chairman and that the board members also continue in their positions until the finalisation of the investigations.”
“That the Minister of Energy and Power Development, Soda Zhemu, should examine corporate governance issues that have been raised in the Zacc [Zimbabwe Anti-Corruption Commission] interim report and present his recommendations on the same to his excellency the President by November 30, 2020,” Sibanda added.
The investigations were ordered by the President on August 6 after several allegations were made against Gata by former Energy minister Fortune Chasi.
Some of the allegations involved corruption at Mutare Peaking Plant Project, Intratek Gwanda Solar Project.
Zacc also examined corporate governance issues at Zesa and recommended that Gata be cleared of four charges, while the other two are still under probe.
Gata was facing charges of authorising an expenditure of $10 million for Christmas parties in Hwange and Kariba in 2019 without board approval, unilaterally installing solar equipment at his residence in Borrowdale using Zesa funds and unprocedurally setting up a trust called ZESIT to undertake several Zesa projects.
Zacc is yet to clear Gata on the allegations of interfering with the disciplinary process of Zesa utility secretary Norah Tsomondo, and sneaking his personal staff onto the Zesa payroll and authorising payment for ghost employees.
Gata’s first flirtation with Zesa was when he joined the organisation as its first black general manager soon after independence in 1980 before his dismissal in 1995 after a commission of inquiry found that he was unfit for the position.
However, Gata bounced back as executive chairperson of Zesa in 2000 and oversaw the unbundling of the power utility into several companies that constitute Zesa Holdings today.
In 2006, then Energy minister retired Gata after he became disillusioned with the manner he was running Zesa.
Gata again bounced back in November last year albeit under controversial circumstances.