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Zinara under fire over huge wage bill

by Staff reporter
26 Mar 2019 at 06:26hrs | Views
THE Zimbabwe National Road Administration (Zinara) was yesterday put under scrutiny in Parliament over revelations by Auditor-General Mildred Chiri that the road agency was paying employees hefty salaries in contravention of stipulated limits.

Zinara chief executive officer Mathlene Mujokoro and other top Zinara officials appeared before the Tendai Biti-led Public Accounts Committee to answer questions on the 2016/17 forensic audit report which exposed gross financial mismanagement.

The officials were asked to explain why they had failed to comply with the 2,5% of revenue statutory limit on wages, with salaries taking up to 11% of the revenue.

The audit report also revealed that the former Zinara board led by its chairperson Albert Mugabe, claimed hefty board fees outside the stipulated limits.

In the report, it was revealed that Mugabe got $47 400 in untaxed board allowances, and another board member Davison Norupiri ($29 740).

"We want to know, as a committee, the structure of your wage bill because when you look at the forensic audit, you observe that there are amazing perks and benefits that you have been awarding yourselves as Zinara, which were not acknowledged for payment for purposes of taxation," Biti said.

The former Finance minister said the perks were listed as allowances so that they would not be subjected to taxation, and the audit resultantly revealed that Zinara had not complied with the 2,5% of the total revenue statutory limit on their wages.

Mujokoro said Zinara's failure to comply with the 2,5% statutory limit of total revenue on wages had come as a result of the growth of the entity.

She said during the time in question, in 2016, when Frank Chitukutuku was Zinara chief executive, salaries were around 10% of the statutory limit.

"However, the executive and management have been trying to contain that level. Right now, we have more than 600 employees, but in 2013 and 2010, they were around 300," Mujokoro said.

But the Public Accounts Committee demanded that the Zinara bosses give figures of how much was allocated towards salaries monthly.

Zinara finance director Simon Taranhike said the authority's wage bill for January and February 2019, for example, stood at $721 000.

MPs were not impressed by his responses and demanded that he should be more precise and give salary expenses for only one month for all employees.

Mujokoro then responded: "From January to February 2019, we paid $897 354 for the 638 employees."

Biti said the wage bill was still too high.

Asked to further explain their monthly revenues, Taranhike said they got $6,5 million monthly from vehicle licensing revenue, and of that, $1,3 million went to Univern.

On toll fees, Zinara said they make $2,5 million per month, while 18% went to Univern ($312 000) and on transit fees, the roads entity makes $1,6 million per month, while Univern gets $350 000.

The total revenue for the end of February was $35,8 million and $7,4 million was paid as agency fees to Univern.

The committee felt that Univern, which has several contracts with Zinara, and of which most of them were awarded without going to tender, had become a burden on the institution.

Taranhike said about $19 million per month was being paid to Univern by Zinara.

"We believe that the people of Zimbabwe have been prejudiced of millions of dollars by Zinara. We have summoned Univern to speak about being awarded contracts without going to tender, and we need also to summon previous chief executive officers Chitukutuku and managers Moses Juma and Zinara director of finance Precious Murove who are listed as notorious in the AG's forensic audit report," Biti said.

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Source - newsday