THERE was drama at Zesa headquarters on Wednesday when the power entity’s executive chairperson Sydney Gata scoffed at the board’s decision to suspend him and blatantly refused to vacate office, insisting he could not be investigated by his juniors, Zim Morning Post can report.
Gata is said to have insisted that only his appointing authority President Emmerson Mnangagwa had the power to suspend him.
Gata is under-fire for allegedly allocating for his personal use five company vehicles, scuttling the disciplinary hearing of a top executive, spending $10 million on Christmas parties, sending four consultants to South Africa, and setting up a trust to mine gold.
“He told the board members that only the principal could fire him since he was appointed by the president through the minister,” an insider told Zim Morning Post.
“He defied the suspension saying no subordinate can investigate him,” the insider added.
“The board members came yesterday to suspend him so that they could commence the investigations, to avoid tampering with evidence and interfering with witnesses. He refused to leave the Zesa offices,” the highly placed source continued.
Energy and Power Dvelopment minister Fortune Chasi ordered the Zesa Holdings board to carryout, within five days, an investigation into allegations of corruption by the power entity’s executive chairperson Sydney Gata.
In a letter addressed to the Zesa Board Chasi stated that: “You are directed as the board to institute investigations in the allegations against Dr Gata and take necessary steps in terms of the relevant laws,” Chasi wrote.
“In particular the ministry requires information on the lawsuit…allocation of five vehicles for Dr Gata’s personal use…the issue concerning four consultants and transactions involving Tuli and a trust…,” he added.
Insiders say Chasi who is in a catch-22 situation regarding the matter, has called for an emergency meeting between the contesting parties.
“The minister is the one who appointed Gata but now he is under pressure after the corruption allegations so he has to solve this impasse without drawing more attention,” an insider said, adding Zesa board members are currently holding closed door meetings with the minister.
Gata’s appointment as the power entity’s executive chairperson in 2018 was described by some as a step backwards but Chasi insisted his decision was informed by the need to bring somebody with a clear and thorough understanding of the goings on at the power utility.
However, after an expose by Zim Morning Post revealed that Gata had made an unilateral decision to allocate himself five vehicles, in addition to the official vehicle as stipulated by his contract of employment, Chasi on 27 July, wrote a letter to Zesa calling for a thorough board investigation.
The five vehicles are all fuelled by the power supply entity while being used for family business, it is alleged.
A detailed report seen by this publication revealed that as per Gata’s contract, he was awarded a Mercedes Benz (Registration number ADY 9279) as his official vehicle.
However, Gata is said to have gone on to personalise a pool of vehicles including a Toyota Fortuner (registration number AEK 1655), and allocated it to his wife to use as her personal car.
The report also states that “Gata has commandeered the following vehicles for use by his family: Fortuner (AEK 1657), Mazda BT50 (ADL 1895), Mazda BT50 (ACU 6449), and another Mazda BT50 (ACU 6660).”
All the four vehicles including his official one are fueled by Zesa.
As was reported by the Zim Morning Post, Gata was sucked into a corruption storm where among other things, he is accused of diverting the entity’s projects and abusing public funds.
Ironically, Gata, last month fired several managers on allegations of abuse of office.
Gata, according to a detailed report sent to the Zimbabwe Anti-Corruption Commission, also subverted Zesa funds to pay employees who have nothing to do with the power entity.
Diversion of projects
The report details how Gata has been using a private entity named the Zimbabwe Electricity Supply Industry Trust (ZESIT) to carry out projects meant to be done by Zesa.
“ZESIT is passed off as one of the Zesa Holdings related entities when in fact it has no relationship whatsoever with Zesa Holdings,” reads the report, handed over to Zimbabwe Anti-Corruption Commission.
“The entity is private project, which is the brainchild and mastered by Dr Gata and some of his erstwhile colleagues Zesa.”
Among projects already diverted, according to the report, include the Tuli mining project which the Zesa board approved as a proposal between Zesa and the Reserve Bank of Zimbabwe.
ZESIT has also taken over the KEPCO project which is supposed to be a project being run by Zesa and Korean companies called KEPCO and POSCO.
Gata has been at the helm of Zesa on three occasions where he was fired and rehired.