EXCLUSIVE : ZESA’s controversial Gata is actually president Mnangagwa’s brother-in-law

Sydney Gata

President Emmerson Mnangagwa is related by ‘marriage” to disputatious ZESA “executive” chairman, Sydney Gata, whom he mysteriously brought back to the parastatal last November, 13 years after he had been sacked from the same post for allegedly running down the power utility, The ZimbabweNewsLive can exclusively reveal.

After Mnangagwa made a show of suspending Gata and the entire ZESA board purportedly to facilitate a ZACC probe into corruption allegations against Gata, sources told The ZimbabweNewsLive that Gata’s appointment was a result of his being a relative of the increasingly autocratic Zimbabwean ruler through ‘marriage’.

“Don’t you know that when Sydney Gata divorced Regina Ntombana Mugabe (half-sister to the late former president Robert Mugabe) he married his long-time girlfriend, Angeline Mayahle, from his home area of Chipinge?” the source asked. “The elder sister to Angeline, Moline Mayahle, has three children with Emmerson Mnangagwa. This is how Gata got the controversial appointment in the first place… they are literally joined at the hip,” the source added.

Moline, the mother of Mnangagwa’s three children, was in May last year appointed to the board of the Environmental Management Agency (EMA). Mnangagwa is understood to have more than 80 children with different women, some of whom he is customarily married to. Some of these women – including some believed to be in his Cabinet – have benefited immensely from various public appointments throughout his long career in government.

Mnangagwa came into power – and retained it in the controversial 2018 election – on the promise to fight corruption.

An announcement by the Secretary to the president and Cabinet, Misheck Sibanda, yesterday said the suspension of Gata and the rest of the board members to allow the Zimbabwe Anti-Corruption Commission (ZACC) to investigate the corruption allegations levelled against Gata. 

Allegations against Gata are that he took for his personal use five ZESA vehicles over and above his official Mercedes Benz, scuttled the disciplinary hearing of a top executive, spent $10 million on Christmas parties, sent four consultants to South Africa and set up a trust to mine gold.

Sibanda’s statement said ZACC chairperson, Justice Loice Matanda-Moyo, had been asked to immediately undertake thorough investigations into allegations against Gata and conclude it within four weeks. Justice Matanda-Moyo is the wife to Foreign Affairs minister, Sibusiso Moyo, the former general who was the face of the 2017 coup that brought Mnangagwa to power.

“His Excellency the President expects ZACC to complete its investigations as well as table its report on the findings within four weeks,” reads the statement by Dr Sibanda last night.

ZESA has been rocked with boardroom squabbles after Energy and Power Development minister Fortune Chasi tasked its board to investigate the corruption allegations against Gata. Pursuant to this ministerial directive, the board suspended Gata to pave way for investigations, but he responded to the board’s move by ‘firing’ it, leaving many wondering where Gata was getting his powers from.

Gata announced the dismissal of the board in a bizarre statement published last Friday, in which he took credit for what he claimed to be increased staff morale and improved power supply.

“This message is necessitated by recent events reported in public and social media and social media which have created uncertainty in the integrity of ZESA and its corporate leadership, more so the Executive Chairman,” Gata said in a statement addressed to “Vashandi veZESA vanokosha” (valued ZESA staff).

Mnangagwa controversially re-appointed Gata to the post in November last year. This was despite Gata’s record of running down ZESA when he was chief executive officer from 2000. Gata, then Mugabe’s brother-in-law, upgraded his position to that of executive chairman in 2003, a position that is not provided for in the Public Entities Corporate Governance Act. He was eventually sacked in 2006 after a fall-out with the Mugabe family following his divorce from Regina.

Mnangagwa brought Gata back in the same dubious capacity, which gave him extensive powers that he believed entitled him to act against the rest of the ZESA board.

Chasi responded to Gata’s antics by suspending him and baring him from ZESA’s premises, but Gata scoffed at the minister’s actions.

“He refused to accept the letter of suspension and instead proceeded to suspend the entire board as if he had the powers to do so,” Chasi said. “He doesn’t. It is very strange and unusual action suggesting that something was seriously wrong.”

“I know so well that Vashandi veZESA Vanokosha will not be fooled,” a defiant Gata said in his strange statement. “I have taken decisive initial action to restore order by suspending eight board members, pending disciplinary action by the Appointing Authority. Furthermore, several arrests are pending on corruption charges including Board members and senior managers.”

He went on to dismiss reports that he had been suspended, saying only the “Appointing Authority could dispense those powers”.

The “appointing authority” that Gata was referring to was his brother-in-law Mnangagwa, who this week, the sources, said had to make a show of being seen to be doing something about it by suspending Gata together with the rest of the other eight board members and deploying a compromised ZACC to make another show of investigating Gata.

“He (Mnangagwa) is now getting embarrassed with Gata’s behaviour and doesn’t know what to do with him,” the source said. “He obviously will find him something else to do.”
When Gata was re-appointed, there were suggestions that he had been strongly recommended to Chasi by several executives from a number regional power utilities that the then under-fire Energy and Power minister was repeatedly visiting to beg them to keep the power supplies on while he tried to clear ZESA’s bloated power import debts.