The Zimbabwe Tourism Authority (ZTA) ‘s benevolence has backfired as the tourism body is at pains to explain its basis of funding former minister and fugitive Walter Mzembi’s seemingly extravagant lifestyle, Zim Morning Post has learnt.
At their own admission, ZTA paid for Mzembi’s cellphone bill amounting to US$4000 in 2015 after his line had been cut off the network for non-payment.
This translates to approximately ZWD$36 000 at the current Inter-Bank rate as traded on Wednesday afternoon
This was revealed in an audit report carried out by Auditor General Mildred Chiri for the period in question .
The funds that were used to clear Mzembi’s cellphone bill debt were not in line with ZTA’s business and mandate.
Furthermore, they were not factored in the organization’s budget , noted Chiri.
“Expenses incurred in 2013,2014 and 2015 financial years did not appear in line with the Authority’s business and were also not budgeted for as per due process,” she highlighted.
She recommended that ZTA ‘s expenditure must be in line with its mandate and paying for Mzembi’s cellphone bill was out of line.
ZTA management acknowledged rescuing Mzembi from a ‘communication blackout’ and reasoned that the illegal act of kindness was to ensure communication with him for the Authority’s business.
“The Honourable Minister (Mzembi) ‘s line was disabled due to accumulation of unpaid bills because Ministry of Finance could not release the funding on time.
“However,the Authority required the minister’s intervention on tourism related issues both locally and internationally which had delayed the Authority’s decision for implementation hence paying the bills,” submitted the management.
In the same period, ZTA also jumped the gun and paid holiday allowances of US$5000 to Anastasia Ndlovu who was then deputy Tourism minister.
In this regard, ZTA management said it was part of her induction package yet such payment was not their obligation.
Mzembi is on a warrant of arrest after absconding court to answer to abuse of office charges.
He told the court that he was seeking treatment at a South African hospital, but South African media have spoken to him in the comfort of his Johannesburg house.
Zim Morning Post understands that he purchased a plush house in Joburg after put his palatial Vainona mansion on the market for a princely $US800 000.
Renowned estate agents Pam Golding Properties, Bard Real Estate and Sky Ryan Properties scrambled to sell the house.