ENERGY minister Dzikamai Mavhaire ignored due diligence reports prepared for his consideration and proceeded to appoint some “tainted individuals” to the boards of parastatals in his ministry, the Zimbabwe Independent has learnt.
Two weeks ago, Mavahaire raised eyebrows when he appointed board members for Zesa Holdings and its nine subsidiaries, most of whom are reportedly loyal to the Zanu PF faction led by Vice-President Joice Mujuru, who is locked in a bitter succession fight with another faction led by Justice minister Emmerson Mnangagwa.
The appointments were widely viewed as part of a grand plan to shore up the Mujuru faction which Mavhaire reportedly belongs to.
Government sources close to the developments said: “What was particularly galling were the appointments of Wilfred Matukeni and Tanaka Sikwila to the PetroTrade board despite the fact that Mavhaire had been furnished with information linking them to a US$3 million CMED fuel scandal in which they allegedly ‘lied that First Oil had three million litres of fuel at its Msasa depot when its tanks were dry’.”
CMED was reportedly prejudiced of US$3 million as a result.
“The President’s Office vets any prospective appointments and it was no different in the case of Mavhaire’s nominees,” said one source. “They were all vetted and Mavhaire was alerted to the allegations against Matukeni and Sikwila, but ultimately, it is up to an individual minister to consider or ignore these due diligence reports. Unfortunately, Mavhaire chose the latter.
He even had the arrogance to ask why he was being bothered when nobody was bothering (Transport minister Obert) Mpofu for appointing (Godwills) Masimirembwa to the CMED (board).”
According to the state media, Mavhaire defended his appointments saying they were approved by President Robert Mugabe.
“It is as good as you questioning why President Mugabe approved those boards,” Mavhaire reportedly said, adding: “That is what the President has always said that you always want to attack people’s personalities. To us, everyone in that board met the criteria approved by the highest authority in the country.”
Ironically, Mpofu wants the CMED scandal involving the duo investigated. He confirmed reporting the issue to the police.
“There have been claims that these guys are untouchable, but we are going to touch them. The matter has been reported to the police. It is not money that was stolen from CMED, but it is money that was collected by characters and businesspeople that are well known,” Mpofu reportedly said.
Mavhaire denied any due diligence had been presented to him, saying: “I am not aware of any such report and in any case, the two were not appointed, but sit on the board by virtue of having worked in the parastatal for many years.”
Mavhaire also accused the media of lacking objectivity in its reportage on the issue claiming “you keep focusing on the few politicians who have been appointed to boards while ignoring the bigger picture where we have actually complied with the constitution which demands that we consider regional balance, skills and gender in making such appointments”.
Political analyst Ibbo Mandaza, who is former chairperson of the parastatals commission (1988-1990,) said Mavhaire’s appointments “reflected the culture of patronage which is so common the world over, but particularly poignant in the Zimbabwean case due to an economic and leadership crisis”.