CMED saga takes Zanu PF factional twist

HARARE - The Central Mechanical Equipment Department (CMED) saga has taken a new twist with revelations that Transport minister Joram Gumbo’s insistence on the reinstatement of suspended managing director Davis Mhaka was linked to Zanu PF factionalism.

Last week, a disciplinary committee set up by CMED board chairperson, Godwills Masimirembwa, and headed by retired judge Simbi Mubako recommended that Mhaka be sacked from his position at CMED after being found guilty of two out of the four charges that his employer had preferred against him.

The tribunal conducted a 15 month-long hearing in the case in which Mhaka was accused of gross incompetence which resulted in CMED losing close to $3 million in a botched fuel procurement deal with First Oil.

However, the disciplinary procedures were marred by political interference with Gumbo unilaterally instructing the CMED board to reinstate Mhaka even before the sitting of the disciplinary authority.

Interestingly, Mhaka together with Gumbo are believed to be aligned to a Zanu PF faction backing Vice Pesident Emmerson Mnangagwa to succeed President Robert Mugabe.

In various correspondences between Masimirembwa and Gumbo, copies of which were seen by the Daily News, the Transport minister tried to arm-twist the board to capitulate to his demands.

However, on November 30, 2015, Masimirembwa wrote to Gumbo advising him that reinstating Mhaka entailed “termination of a quasi-judicial process that is underway”.

‘‘In other words the disciplinary committee is yet to come up with a penalty on the case, weighing the pros and cons of the matter.

“In view of the foregoing, the board’s advice is that due process should be allowed to go through to completion…” wrote Masimirembwa further advising Gumbo that his actions could be interpreted as an attempt to “circumvent the due process”.

But on December 2, 2015 Gumbo insisted that Mhaka be reinstated arguing that he had been acquitted of theft or fraud, a charge which he said formed the basis of CMED’s case against its employee.

However, according to Mubako’s committee findings, Mhaka had been deemed “responsible for committing gross acts of misconduct inconsistent with his contract of employment, gross incompetence and inefficiency occasioning his employer’s enormous prejudice of $2, 7 million”

Yet Gumbo was adamant that prior to the recommendations by Mubako’s committee no case of Mhaka’s supposed incompetence had been reported to his ministry.

“Secondly, your determination to find him not guilty of fraud or theft meant that there is someone else, or some other people that are responsible for the $2,7 million prejudice to CMED, who your board should identify and from whom the money should be recovered.

“It actually appears to me that reinstating Mr Mhaka should help your efforts in that matter as you will now get his full cooperation since your tribunal cleared him of that charge. Consequently, please proceed to reinstate Mr Mhaka as instructed,” ordered gumbo.

Since his recent appointment as minister, Gumbo has been accused of reinstating sacked or suspended senior officials at parastatals under his watch including at the Civil Aviation Authority of Zimbabwe where suspended general manager, David Chaota was brought back despite facing allegations involving poor corporate governance violations.

At the National Railways of Zimbabwe, Gumbo fired board chairperson Alvord Mabhena, who was in the process of hiring personnel to try and revive the struggling parastatal.  


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