By Mthulisi Mathuthu
SW Radio Africa
17 February 2014
In what is seen as further manifestation of ZANU PF factionalism, the state media this week took the ‘salary gate’ scam to another level by provoking debate on the prospects of some culprits being prosecuted.
An article in the Sunday Mail suggested that more evidence must be unearthed before the suspended ZBC CEO Happison Muchechetere and Premier Service Medical Aid Society (PSMAS) boss Cuthbert Dube are arrested. But as in most of the state media, they are omitting to mention the guys at the top, who are also responsible. George Charamba and former information minister Webster Shamu. Charamba was paid a very large salary for sitting on the board of PSMAS, while Shamu, as Minister of Information, was Muchechetere’s boss.
Titled ‘Why are Muchechetere, Dube not in jail’, the article quoted an unnamed lawyer saying only an audit at ZBC and PSMAS can reveal whether crimes were committed. The unnamed lawyer said Dube could be charged with abuse of office, as he was also the ZBC chairman at the time Muchechetere was CEO. This would happen if it was proved that he negotiated and approved contracts of executives without the full board’s knowledge.
Audits are ‘imminent’ at both the ZBC and the PSMAS, reports have said.
A fortnight ago information minister Jonathan Moyo said the ‘obscene salaries’ earned by some executives of public entities were ‘corrupt and illegal.’ Moyo further said the government should come up with a ‘depoliticised’ response to the rot at the public institutions.
But observers have detected ZANU PF factionalism in the pattern of events around the ‘salary gate.’ Social policy expert Dr Admore Tshuma said the exclusion of Charamba and Shamu from the Sunday Mail article shows that the state media revelations are about ZANU PF factionalism and personal clashes.
Tshuma said: ‘If there is indeed any desire to prosecute there should also be debate on whether both Charamba and Shamu can be arrested or not. You cannot talk of arresting Muchechetere and Dube without talking about Charamba. So this whole thing boils down to personal clashes and factionalism.’
Tshuma said he did not expect Dube and Muchechetere to be nabbed because there is no way in which their looting would have gone on for so long without the board knowing anything.
Tshuma’s comments come after former minister of state enterprises Gorden Moyo told SW Radio Africa that the looting of parastatals was a secret government programme meant to cushion strategic individuals, like the soldiers. Moyo said most CEOs distributed part of their mega salaries to indentified people as per instruction from the government. Moyo said as a result he expected most of the people found to have looted parastatals to go scot free.
Moyo said he expected business to continue as usual including at institutions where looting was monumental. Already on Monday the Government announced the renewal of the PSMAS licence before the appointment of a new board. The PSMAS, whose boss Dube earned half a million dollars a month, owes the United Bulawayo Hospitals over $9 m in unpaid arrears.
Analysts have observed that only people linked to a ZANU PF faction led by vice president Joice Mujuru have been exposed so far in connection with salary scams at public institutions. As most of the stories have come out through the state media Jonathan Moyo is seen as being behind the revelations. Both Moyo and Charamba are said to belong to a faction led by Justice Minister Emmerson Mnangagwa.