Tendai Mugabe Senior Reporter
Former Transport and Infrastructural Development Minister Dr Joram Gumbo has denied any wrongdoing in corporate governance malpractices that dogged the Zimbabwe National Road Administration during his tenure.
The malpractices range from alleged abuse of money and flouting of corporate governance tenets.
Dr Gumbo was recently reassigned to the Ministry of Energy and Power Development.
Documents in our possession reveal that Dr Gumbo directly withdrew allowances from Zinara.
On corporate governance malpractices that border on a clear case of conflict of interest, Dr Gumbo’s company JMCD won a lucrative tender to supply clothing material to Zinara.
Further, on some occasions Dr Gumbo was paid money for other engagements by Zinara, which had nothing to do with road development. In an interview with The Herald, Dr Gumbo said there was nothing wrong with the dealings.
He told The Herald that his company won the tender competitively and the same company was also supplying other Government departments.
Asked if there was no conflict of interest in having his company supplying material to a line state enterprise under his ministry, Dr Gumbo said: “I have a company called JMCD. It is our company and the directors are myself and my wife. It is a sewing company. It is supplying the army, Zanu-PF, the Ministry of Health (and Child Care) and many other companies. It won these tenders. It has got nothing to do with me as an individual.
“I cannot go and stop a company and say you can’t tender. It is not possible and the fact that I am working and when the company supplies the army and the Ministry of Health it is okay, but when they supply Zinara because they have won a tender competitively like everybody else then it becomes a crime. I do not understand it. When they won their tender I was not even involved, but the company is there and there is nothing to hide about it. It is connected with Nemchem and was supplying a lot of things in Government. We are doing a lot of cleaning and it did not start now. That has always been happening.”
One of the Zinara receipts in possession of The Herald subtitled: Application for advances and authority travel, Dr Gumbo on April 12, 2018, signed for an allowance of US$1 295.
“I Honourable Dr JM Gumbo am applying for $1 295 for the following purposes: Trips on official business during the period April 12 to April 16, 2018.”
The purpose of the allowances according to the receipt was for the minister to go on a continuous assessment of roads in the Midlands Province.
Asked how he was directly accessing allowances from Zinara instead of the Department of Roads in his ministry, Dr Gumbo said everything to do with roads Zinara had to pay.
He said the ministry only supplies fuel coupons for 650 litres for such engagements.
“When you go out as a minister you apply for assistance because you do not have the money for hotels and all your staff so there is nothing wrong,” he said.
“Zinara is for roads. From the ministry you are only given 650 (litres) coupons, but because you are going out you do not go alone. You go with a team to visit the roads. So if you are going to visit all the roads in the Midlands you get the funding from them. Zinara is for roads so they will assist you to go out and do work that we are supposed to do.
“Every time you saw me in Nkayi, Chipinge, in Mashonaland Central or anywhere else, accommodation, food and all the other expenses were being paid for by Zinara.”
In another case, Zinara paid for $4 380 for Dr Gumbo’s travel expenses to Malaysia on Zim Airways business. Asked why Zinara was paying his costs that had nothing to do with road development Dr Gumbo said it was official Government business.
“What happened when we started this thing about Zim Airways, we were going on trips to Malaysia,” he said.
“The point was that Zim Airways did not have money. You could not then get money from Air Zimbabwe because they were strained and they could not pay because it was now like two separate accounts or entities — Air Zimbabwe on its own, Zim Airways on its own.
“But then how do you go to Malaysia and do Government business, we needed money to go there. What we then did at the ministry was then to say let’s look at a parastatal that can fund the trip so that’s is how we did it. Zinara was the only place where we could get money, but still it was Government business.”
Zim Airways is yet to operate and recent reports suggested the plane was flown back to Malaysia for maintenance without making a single commercial business trip.