Bigwigs gobble US$11m in loans

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Finance ministry permanent secretary Willard Manungo tops the list of loan beneficiaries.

SENIOR officials in the Office of the President and Cabinet (OPC), permanent secretaries and military officials were lavished with personal loans amounting to US$11 million at a time the cash-strapped government is struggling to pay its bloated workforce, the Zimbabwe Independent can exclusively reveal.

By Elias Mambo

A loan schedule shows government has, between 2014 and March 2017, advanced loans to senior public officials, some of whom topped up their initial loans, despite failing to service their debts.

This comes against the backdrop of a revelation by Auditor-General Mildred Chiri that the broke Treasury has failed to account for nearly US$570 million disbursed to unnamed beneficiaries in the form of loans, exposing bad governance, gross mismanagement of public funds and systematic looting by top officials.

The report raised concern over various issues, including maintenance of accounting records, fraudulent activities, transfers of money from fund accounts, outstanding payments to suppliers of goods and services, use of fund resources as collateral security and unsupported expenditures.

Government is spending more than 90% of revenue on recurrent expenditure, with the bulk going towards the payment of wages, leaving very little for capital expenditure and social services provision. Due to constrained cash flows, government has also been failing to pay its workers on time.

Documents seen by the Independent show that senior government officials, including those from the OPC, permanent secretaries, military, Zimbabwe Prison Services and the Zimbabwe Republic Police (ZRP), have outstanding loans which they are struggling to service.

Finance ministry permanent secretary Willard Manungo tops the loan list, having acquired 10 loans to the tune of
US$174 000, Civil Service Commission (CSC) boss Mariyawanda Nzuwah (US$155 000), CSC secretary Pretty Sunguro (US$140 000), Media and Information ministry permanent secretary George Charamba (US$120 000), while Environment ministry’s permanent secretary Prince Mupaziriho has a loan amounting to US$110 000.

Comments could not be obtained from Manungo, Nzuwah, Sunguro and Mupaziriho as their mobile phones went unanswered.

Text messages sent to them delivered but were not responded to, including a WhatsApp message to Manungo.

Charamba’s mobile phone could not go through as he was said to be in Namibia on official government business.

Officials from the OPC, who include the chief secretary to the president and cabinet, Misheck Sibanda has a US$100 000 loan, Ray Ndhlukula (US$40 000) and Justin Mupamhanga (US$40 000).

Efforts to get comments from OPC were in vain as Sibanda, Ndhlukula and Mupamhanga were said to have been out of the office.

The loan schedule also shows that the government officials are paying back as little as US$200 monthly without much interest and the loans can be topped-up even before the previous ones are fully-serviced.

A top government insider said some officials who have the loans are even failing to pay back the small monthly amounts, but continue to borrow. “Nzuwa has three loans amounting to US$155 000 as shown on the schedule. He first applied for a US$50 000 and has an outstanding balance of US$39 000. He applied for a second one (US$30 000) and only paid US$5 000, then got a third loan (US$75 000),” the source said.

The source also said Sunguro has six loans which she has been servicing at a paltry US$212 monthly each.

“The loans have no time-frame, so senior government officials will continue to pay and top every time they need cash,” said the source, adding: “The loans are applied through one’s ministry and released by Treasury.”

Former finance minister Tendai Biti said he had always suspected that some Zanu PF loyalists, from the rank of permanent secretary upwards, have always benefited through unorthodox means.

“At the centre of this incestuous arrangement is Misheck Sibanda and those in OPC,” Biti said. “These are extra-legal benefits crafted to make sure that those senior civil servants benefit at the expense of the majority. They do not earn high salaries, but have you ever heard of a permanent secretary who resigned?” he asked.

Biti also said what Treasury is doing is in contravention of the Public Finance Management Act. “Any loan has to go through parliament because they are taking from public funds. The best government can do is to guarantee for its employees through a bank,” Biti said, adding: “Government is not a lender, so this whole arrangement is incestuous and opaque.”

3 thoughts on “Bigwigs gobble US$11m in loans”

  1. Vusumuzi wako Mange says:

    Viva Zimbabwe!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

  2. NOMUSA GARIKAI says:

    A few months ago we learnt that the Zanu PF regime was spending $20 million buying cars and other gifts for chiefs and other tribal local leaders. Today it is the chefs in government.

    “SENIOR officials in the Office of the President and Cabinet (OPC), permanent secretaries and military officials were lavished with personal loans amounting to US$11 million at a time the cash-strapped government is struggling to pay its bloated workforce, the Zimbabwe Independent can exclusively reveal,” reported the paper.

    “This comes against the backdrop of a revelation by Auditor-General Mildred Chiri that the broke Treasury has failed to account for nearly US$570 million disbursed to unnamed beneficiaries in the form of loans, exposing bad governance, gross mismanagement of public funds and systematic looting by top officials.”
    This is just the ears of the hippo of Zanu PF’s vote buying scheme. These senior civil servants, local chiefs, etc. are key players in the regime’s vote rigging operations and what better way of ensuring their unwavering cooperation than making sure they are all up to the eye-balls in debt.
    Finance ministry permanent secretary Willard Manungo tops the loan list, having acquired 10 loans to the tune of US$174 000, Civil Service Commission (CSC) boss Mariyawanda Nzuwah (US$155 000), CSC secretary Pretty Sunguro (US$140 000), Media and Information ministry permanent secretary George Charamba (US$120 000), while Environment ministry’s permanent secretary Prince Mupaziriho has a loan amounting to US$110 000.
    Of course, none of these individuals would want Zanu PF to lose power for fear the new government would ask them to repay the loan.

    “At the centre of this incestuous arrangement is Misheck Sibanda and those in OPC,” Biti said. “These are extra-legal benefits crafted to make sure that those senior civil servants benefit at the expense of the majority. They do not earn high salaries, but have you ever heard of a permanent secretary who resigned?”

    Anyone who thinks Zimbabwe can ever hold free and fair elections without implementing the democratic reforms designed to cut the corrupting influence of the Zanu PF dictatorship is daydreaming. The regime has corrupted every segment of society that has any meaningful power and authority from those in government right down to the village level.

  3. CM says:

    Guys can we run a country like this? is this how taxpayers money should be used? Correct me if i am wrong. if what we read in the newspapers is true, then vaMugabe sa baba must act. We cant have every ministry in government behaving the way they do. corruption is there in any country but not up to this level. Zacc is busy engaging the Zimra guys to see whether he paid tax when he bought bicycles meant for the chiefs but is not doing anything concerning rampant corruption in government ministries. look at the rot at NSSA, Mpilo hospital, zinara and almost all the gvt ministries. and u say Jonathan is the only thief. its not fair honestly. i think we need new guys in Zacc. Zacc has failed us.
    And where is the police? guys we cant run a country like this. correct me if i am wrong. The president is not corrupt as far as i know, but i am worried why he is not acting on corruption. lets leave whites for a while and fight corruption. lets see people charged for their criminal misconduct, ministers, permanent secretaries, police commissioners. these are the people who ruin our economy , not whites not sanctions. how can treasury behave like that giving people loans without duration and the beneficiaries getting more loans without servicing the previous ones? we need responsible people in the treasury, not the current crop. there is just too much rot that smells everywhere you go. vaMugabe musatarise zve politic chete, please tarisai zvirikuitika nezve corruption. we will also blame you if you dont take action. i know you have all the wisdom, but i think the time is ripe to act on corruption va president.

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