The Sunday News
Vusumuzi Dube, Senior Reporter
THE Zimbabwe Anti-Corruption Commission (Zacc) has opened investigations on the National Railways of Zimbabwe (NRZ) amid allegations of procurement irregularities at the country’s railway transporter.
This comes as the Government recently committed itself to expedite the implementation of a 2017 forensic audit to restore a sound business model at NRZ, which is a vital cog in the country’s bulk transport system given its cost-effective advantage.
Last month, NRZ acting finance director, Mr Mthandazo Mlotshwa, was sent on indefinite leave pending investigations into allegations of corruption involving US$23 million.
The allegations against Mr Mlotshwa include the reported non-delivery of eight vehicles ordered last year from Nissan Clover Leaf Motors and procurement fraud of fuel worth millions of dollars during the past five years.
In an interview with Sunday News on Friday Zacc spokesperson, Mr John Makamure confirmed that their investigations team was in Bulawayo, where they were investigating a number of tender irregularities involving the bulk transporter.
“Although I cannot give you all the details for now, to avoid jeopardising our investigations I can only confirm that our team is looking into the procurement processes at NRZ which are said to be flawed. I must emphasise that as a commission we will not rest until we weed out all the corruption in the country because it goes on to grossly affect our economy in both the short and the long term, therefore the public should not hesitate to approach our offices to whistle blow on any corruption activities,” said Mr Makamure.
The Government recently appointed NRZ board member, Mr Joseph Mashika, as acting general manager after then general manager Engineer Lewis Mukwada was also put on leave pending early retirement by the end of this month.
Eng Mukwada had served NRZ for more than 30 years on various capacities and was appointed general manager in 2016 following the death of Retired Air Commodore Mike Karakadzai in 2013.
Transport and Infrastructural Development Minister Joe Biggie Matiza recently directed that the parastatal’s board, which is chaired by Advocate Martin Dinha, restructure the NRZ management as well as implementing the recommendations of the 2017 forensic audit recommendations.
The restructuring exercise seeks to revamp the whole managerial structure, and is hoped that it will result in managerial functions being reassigned into a smaller and leaner group of top employees than the present six executive directors and 15 senior managers. Unlike the past restructuring, which looked at eliminating non-managerial and lower paid staff, the present effort targets a smaller group of highly-paid staff.
The posts of general manager and chief operations officer will remain at executive director level but the functions of corporate services, marketing, finance and administration, and technical services will be held by managers at a lower level, sources said.
The strategic entity, which requires US$1,9 billion in the medium to long-term to recapitalise operations last year moved 2,8 million tonnes of cargo against a target of 4,2 million. At its peak in the 1990s, NRZ which has an installed capacity of 18 million tonnes annually, transported 14,4 million tonnes.