Corruption at ZESA threatens to dump Zimbabwe into darkness

Corruption at ZESA threatens to dump Zimbabwe into darkness
Published: 21 March 2018 (202 Views)
Harare - Massive corruption, nepotism, jobs for pals schemes, and blatant mismanagement at Zimbabwe Power Company (ZPC) and Zimbabwe Electricity Transmission and Distribution Company (ZETDC) are threatening to send Zimbabwe's Electricity Supply Authority (ZESA) into a massive tailspin, Khuluma Afrika reported.

Allegations of the aforementioned have led to massive tension between engineers, technicians and other artisans at both ZPC and ZETDC and top management at the firms.

These tensions threatened to boil over on Tuesday last week (13 March, 2018) when workers at ZESA offices in park street temporarily downed tools and undertook protest action against top management.

When Khuluma Afrika reporters arrived at the offices there was visible tension, with workers at the back office clearly engaged in a strike.

Khuluma Afrika was shown a list of grievances, by the workers, who alleged that the top management were "living large" while neglecting the plight of permanent workers.

Khuluma Afrika was told that management had purchased several top of the range vehicles for themselves, while technicians struggled to find transport to attend emergencies or to do routine maintenance work.

The technicians and engineers also complained immensely about blatant victimisation by the management each time they tried to air their grievances, something which led to several highly skilled members leaving ZESA and going abroad.

To deal with the skills drain, management had reportedly resorted to outsourcing tasks to companies owned by their associates and friends, which would in-turn hire relatives of the management to perform tasks on behalf of ZESA.

Sources familiar with the jobs for pals scheme told Khuluma Afrika that technicians outsourced by ZESA were being paid as much as four times more than those employed by ZESA despite at times holding less qualifications, less experience, and working on a part time basis.

Further investigations seem to indicate that top management at ZESA maybe involved in elaborate schemes where the companies engaged to assist in the outsourcing of labour repatriate the money they are paid by ZESA back to top management.

The jobs for pals scheme has destroyed morale among the workers, who are now threatening to engage in a massive go slow, or to down tools nationwide - decisions which would plunge the country into darkness and see the return of rolling blackouts.

Khuluma Afrika has it on good authority that top management (names supplied) intentionally leaks ideal tender procedures to pals before flighting tenders. Investigations into these allegations remain ongoing, amid indications that former first lady, Grace Mugabe is the major beneficiary by proxy of the tender scheme.

Some staff members, who are part of the junior management at ZESA, but declined to be named, complained of victimisation, stating that the top management was "in bed with Grace" and attempting to cover up their deeds by victimising potential whistleblowers.

"What happened was that during Mugabe's time, these guys looted. Its not Undenge alone. And now what is happening is they are trying to cover up their tracks. We have all been threatened and victimised. It has gotten worse since investigations were announces by ZACC (Zimbabwe Anti Corruption Commission)." the whistleblower said.

Khuluma Afrika was told that ZACC intended to effect arrests two weeks ago, before postponing them. Several members are reportedly due for suspension, to allow ZACC to investigate irregular activities at the power utility without hinderance.

But that may occur too late.

Khuluma Afrika attempted to pose questions and seek comment from members of the ZESA management to no avail. On the day of the 'strike', reporters were given the run around shuffled from one office and floor to the other, while managers protested as to why the guards had allowed us entry into the premises.

The General manager, identified only as Mr Chikwira, advised reporters to speak to Mr Fullad Gwasira who was reportedly not in his office. Reporters were directed to Prisca Utete, whom they were told is in charge of Public Relations and the deputy spokesperson. She declined to comment and advised us to send questions in writing. ZESA did not respond to the questions sent via email despite indicating they would.

This article appears as an investigation by Khuluma Afrika - a center for investigative journalism based in Zimbabwe. Prince Noble is the publication's deputy editor, while Maynard Manyowa is the Roving Editor.

- Khuluma Afrika

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