Charamba clears Prof Moyo on ve­hi­cles ‘grab’

Chronicle (Zimbabwe) - - National News - Felex Share Harare Bureau

THE two top-of-the range ve­hi­cles Pro­fes­sor Jonathan Moyo is al­leged to have grabbed from the Min­istry of In­for­ma­tion, Me­dia and Broadcasting Ser­vices are as­sets of that par­tic­u­lar min­istry still be­ing used by of­fi­cials in the Gov­ern­ment in­for­ma­tion depart­ment, it has emerged.

Prof Moyo only used the ve­hi­cle as an off-roader, when he was the then In­for­ma­tion, Me­dia and Broadcasting Ser­vices Min­is­ter be­tween 2014 and 2015.

In­for­ma­tion, Me­dia and Broadcasting Ser­vices sec­re­tary Mr Ge­orge Charamba, yes­ter­day said Prof Moyo “punc­tu­ally” sur­ren­dered the ve­hi­cle, when he was re­de­ployed to the Min­istry of Higher and Ter­tiary Ed­u­ca­tion, Science and Tech­nol­ogy De­vel­op­ment.

He said the ve­hi­cle was then “promptly” re­leased to the then In­for­ma­tion, Me­dia and Broadcasting Ser­vices Deputy Min­is­ter Monica Mutsvangwa, and is now be­ing used by the sit­ting Deputy Min­is­ter Thokozile Mathuthu.

“There is noth­ing to write home about con­cern­ing those two ve­hi­cles,” Mr Charamba said.

“They are there for any­one who is con­cerned to come and in­spect. They are on our as­set reg­is­ters; they are in use by min­istry of­fi­cials in­clud­ing Deputy Min­is­ter and, they will not leave the min­istry. When the Pres­i­dent re­de­ployed Min­is­ter Moyo, he punc­tu­ally sur­ren­dered the Prado he was us­ing to the min­istry. He would have never taken it be­cause it is a min­istry as­set on the reg­is­ter.”

The other Prado ve­hi­cle (ADJ 0725) is be­ing used by Mr Charamba and he would leave the car in the event that he is re­de­ployed.

Me­dia re­ports in­di­cated that the Zimbabwe An­ti­Cor­rup­tion Com­mis­sion was prob­ing Prof Moyo over the two ve­hi­cles.

Mr Charamba said the two Pra­dos were bought at the same time with In­for­ma­tion and Me­dia Panel In­quiry (IMPI) ve­hi­cles through CMED (Pvt) Ltd.

“Gov­ern­ment re­leased money to bail out the Zimbabwe Broadcasting Ser­vices, which had gone for months without pay­ing its staff,” he said.

“There was some money left af­ter this ex­er­cise and as per­ma­nent sec­re­tary, I wrote to Fi­nance Min­istry re­quest­ing for per­mis­sion to use the re­main­der from that sum to carry out an in­ves­ti­ga­tion into the me­dia in­dus­try.

“That in­ves­ti­ga­tion had been de­cided on at our man­age­ment meet­ing well be­fore Prof Moyo was even min­is­ter. When he came into the min­istry, he found a po­si­tion in place where there was a bad state of the me­dia in­dus­try across gen­res and ti­tles. It was im­por­tant for us to do a for­mal in­quiry so we could es­tab­lish what it is that was un­der­min­ing vi­a­bil­ity of the in­dus­try.”

He added: “The first thing we did when a new Cabi­net was formed was to rec­om­mend that there be an in­quiry and to his credit, Prof Moyo as the Min­is­ter em­braced the idea. Against that back­ground, we were wor­ried about the source of fund­ing for that ini­tia­tive and af­ter we had paid ZBC, we wrote to the sec­re­tary for Fi­nance ask­ing for leave to use the money that re­mained to fi­nance that in­quiry.

“The as­sets of the Min­istry by way of ve­hi­cles had dwin­dled quite badly. The last time we re­ceived a new fleet of ve­hi­cles was when Dr Gideon Gono was still Gover­nor of the Re­serve Bank of Zimbabwe. We were the first re­cip­i­ent depart­ment of those ve­hi­cles, such that by the be­gin­ning of 2014, lit­er­ally the min­istry was on its knees and even the ve­hi­cles for con­di­tions of ser­vice, which are at­tain­able from di­rec­tors go­ing up­ward to the min­is­ter were not avail­able.”

Mr Charamba said the prob­lem was worse for min­is­ters as they only had their of­fi­cial Mercedes Benz ve­hi­cles.

“But the dilemma al­ways came when they went to con­stituen­cies and pro­grammes in ru­ral ar­eas,” he said.

“We did not have off-road­ers. What we would then do was to hire from car hire com­pa­nies each time a min­is­ter wanted to at­tend a ru­ral pro­gramme. In the case of Min­is­ter Moyo, each time he wanted to go to Bu­l­awayo, it was im­pos­si­ble to use one Mercedes Benz in Harare and Bu­l­awayo at the same time. We ended up work­ing with car hires to a point where my bud­get bled. I was spend­ing more on car hire than on run­ning min­istry pro­grammes.”

He said the min­istry then took ad­van­tage of the IMPI pro­gramme, which also en­tailed pur­chase of a num­ber of ve­hi­cles to buy the two ex­ec­u­tive Pra­dos.

This, Mr Charamba said, was meant to en­sure the Min­istry would not con­tinue bleed­ing its bud­get in try­ing to meet the travel re­quire­ments of the Min­is­ter each time he had ru­ral pro­grammes.

“In the case of the per­ma­nent sec­re­tary, I only had the per­sonal is­sue ve­hi­cle. I had no duty ve­hi­cle,” he said.

“I wear two heads — one as per­ma­nent sec­re­tary and as press sec­re­tary — which means I was us­ing my per­sonal is­sue ve­hi­cle as a duty ve­hi­cle. What is worse is when it was due for ser­vice, the trans­port of­fi­cer would have to wait for a time when I was out of the coun­try to have it ser­viced oth­er­wise it would mean I would stay without a ve­hi­cle, when the car was be­ing ser­viced.

“We de­cided that over and above the ve­hi­cles, we would buy for IMPI, we buy two ex­ec­u­tive off- road­ers. One, not for the Min­is­ter but for use by the Min­is­ter. The other one was for use by the per­ma­nent sec­re­tary and also to stand as a VIP ve­hi­cle, in the event that we have a VIP vis­i­tor and we al­ways had quite a num­ber of Min­is­ters who were com­ing from the re­gion.”

He said In­for­ma­tion Min­istry of­fi­cials were not in the habit of con­sult­ing Min­is­ters when it came to ex­pen­di­ture. “The Min­is­ter comes with his re­quests and we give them to the con­cerned civil ser­vants,” Mr Charamba said.

“Min­is­ters have to be far away from fi­nances of the Min­istry as the Earth is to the Sun. These are de­ci­sions of a com­mit­tee headed by the fi­nan­cial direc­tor. The ve­hi­cles were bought and for some strange rea­sons, the IMPI lead­er­ship thought the Pra­dos were bought for them. There is no way they were go­ing to drive ve­hi­cles for per­ma­nent sec­re­taries’ grade.”

He said while it was the role of the me­dia to ex­pose cor­rup­tion, jour­nal­ists had to ver­ify their facts.

“I ap­pre­ci­ate the role of the me­dia in ex­pos­ing cor­rup­tion,” he said.

“In­deed, that is a le­git­i­mate role for the me­dia to play, but if you were to deal with that kind of story, you want to make sure you are on all fours, so that your story is not chal­lenged. If Min­is­ter Moyo has his own crosses to carry else­where, let him do so but cer­tainly in re­spect of In­for­ma­tion Min­istry, he walked the straight and nar­row. It was not pos­si­ble for him to breach rules be­cause he was never al­lowed to be close to the fi­nan­cial rules of the Min­istry.”

Prof Moyo, to­gether with his deputy Dr God­frey Gan­dawa, stands ac­cused of si­phon­ing more than $400 000 from the Zimbabwe Man­power De­vel­op­ment Fund. The funds are meant to sup­port stu­dents at ter­tiary in­sti­tu­tions.

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