SUSPENDED Zimbabwe Revenue Authority Commissioner-General Gershem Pasi has been ordered to surrender official vehicles and any other Zimra assets in his possession ahead of a disciplinary hearing set for next Tuesday. Comm-Gen Pasi is expected to answer to at least 40 counts of misconduct including vehicle importation scams and other charges dating back to 2009.
The charges include signing a $14 million contract with a company called AVIC International for the supply of uniforms and tollgate equipment without following tender procedures. He also stands accused of failure to investgate the alleged fraudulent importation of vehicles by Zimra executives, authorising his daughter to use the authority’s vehicle and approving salary increments without the board’s blessings.
Comm-Gen Pasi will also answer to the allegations of allocating himself excessive vehicle allowances to an extent of getting $374 451 between 2014 and May 2016. He is also accused of allocating himself excessive holiday allowances and drew $205 000 from the authority between 2014 and May 2016.
Comm-Gen Pasi is alleged to have received unexplained salaries to the tune of $121 926 in a year. Zimra in March this year sent Comm-Gen Pasi and five other managers on forced leave over an alleged vehicle importation scam.
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On Friday Comm-Gen Pasi was officially suspended from duty without pay. He was summoned to appear for a disciplinary hearing set for November 1, in terms of the Zimra code of conduct.
Comm-Gen Pasi, who is represented by Mr Tazorora Musarurwa and Mr Alex Mambosasa of Mambosasa Legal Practitioners, filed an urgent chamber application at the High Court seeking to block the November 1 hearing. He also seeks to have the suspension nullified.
In the application, Zimra and its chairperson Mrs Willia Bonyongwe were listed as respondents. Comm-Gen Pasi’s lawyers argued that the suspension was illegal and must be nullified. “The purported suspension was an illegality, as according to first respondent (Mrs Bonyongwe), it was in terms of the Zimra code of conduct.
“This is contrary to the clear provisions of the applicant’s contract of service signed between applicant and first respondent, which provide that all matters to do with grievances and disciplinary proceedings are to be governed by Statutory Instrument 15 of 2006,” reads part of the certificate of urgency.
It is also being argued that the planned disciplinary hearing was an illegality because it was being conducted in terms of the ZIMRA code of conduct instead of SI 15 of 2006. The forensic audit relied upon by ZIMRA in charging Mr Pasi, he argued, was done in violation of the regulations governing the authority.
“The basis of suspension was also an illegality as it was premised on a forensic audit which is not provided for in any of the statutes that regulate the second respondent and which was instituted by the first respondent.
The only official endowed with the power to institute any form of audit into the affairs of the second respondent is the Minister of Finance and Economic Development,” reads the certificate.
On the merits of the case, Comm-Gen Pasi indicated that he was denying all the allegations levelled against him. “I must mention that at any rate, all the allegations levelled against me are frivolous and vexatious with no basis whatsoever in fact, law or evidence.
“I categorically deny all the allegations and I am more than ready to defend myself in a proper forum of law. The entire allegations are baseless as they arise out of either non-existent facts or concocted allegations that are diametrically opposed to the incontrovertible evidence that proves the falsity of the allegations.”
Comm-Gen Pasi said his absence from duty through forced leave or suspension was negatively impacting on the nation at large.
“The unlawful suspension and the events preceding the suspension have led to a significant failure to meet national revenue collection targets. As it stands, the financial state of the nation is in a mess as the second respondent is unable to properly execute its mandate due to the fact that there is no leader,”
Meanwhile, Zimra is also investigating three senior officials — Mr Robert Mangwiro, Mr Shadreck Dimingo and Mrs Truenia Dimingo — who were suspended this week after being implicated for misconduct in a recent audit report. Zimra spokesperson Ms Florence Jambwa confirmed the suspension of the trio but refused to shed more light.-Herald