Home » Governance » MPs Quiz Perm Sec Over Airzim

MUNESU Munodawafa, the permanent secretary in the Ministry of Transport and Infrastructure Development, has been tackled by MPs over his role in a multi-million dollar corruption scandal at Air Zimbabwe. Munodawafa, who previously worked as a principal director in former Vice President Joice Mujuru’s office, is named alongside his niece, the former Airzim general manager (legal) Grace Pfumbidzayi, in an elaborate US$11 million aviation scam which brought the airline to its knees.

Pfumbidzayi, working with other senior managers, authorised the payment of inflated aviation insurance premiums to a broker with which she had a corrupt relationship, according to an audit.

Airzim lost in excess of US$11 million in the deal.

But if MPs were expecting some answers from Munodawafa over the damning audit report released last December, but whose recommendations have been mainly ignored a year later, they were left disappointed after the permanent secretary did little to clear the fog, insisting any comments could prejudice the ongoing trial of former Airzim managers.

Airzim lost $305 000 to Navistar Insurance Brokers after Munodawafa wrote to them directing that they make the payment, which BCA Forensic Audit Services concluded was “fraudulent”.

Munodawafa, appearing before the Parliamentary Portfolio Committee on Transport and Infrastructure last week, pleaded his innocence, claiming he had volunteered to be investigated by the police.

“There are two things,” he said, “first that issue (Air Zimbabwe fraud) is sub judice.

“As we are talking now, the courts are also sitting looking at that issue and whatever I say here, if I’m going to tell the truth, will significantly influence what’s happening out there. So I seek to withhold my comments.”

He then added: “But I think just for the benefit of the House, it’s also important for you to know that when that issue came out, I did approach my principals and I explained to them and I offered to be cleared by the relevant State institutions. I volunteered to be interviewed, and I can confirm that at least one of them has interviewed me.

“I volunteered because I want to clear my name.”

Last month, the auditors wrote to the Airzim board and the Transport Minister Obert Mpofu imploring them to implement their recommendations, including that Munodawafa be suspended to allow for further investigations into his conduct.

BCA chief forensic investigator Budhama Chikamhi, in his letter to the board and Minister Mpofu, said following his submission of the audit report, a subsequent review had established that Munodawafa “was aised by a technocrat in the insurance industry, whom he personally consulted for aice”, that there was “no basis . . . for payment of the US$305 000”, yet he “proceeded to write a letter to Air Zimbabwe asking the airline to pay Navistar.”

“The permanent secretary Munesu Munodawafa should answer a number of questions involving this transaction which according to available evidence appears fraudulent,” Chikamhi says.

He added that if the current board led by Abdulman Erick Harid “wants the truth to be unravelled and have the culprits brought to book, which culprits would most likely include the Permanent Secretary Mr Munodawafa as he played a pivotal role in this transaction . . . it is our view that for this matter to be investigated without interference, Mr Munodawafa should be suspended as the investigation will entail interacting with heads of parastatals under the ministry, which exercise we tried to do when we were investigating the scam involving the aviation insurance with no success as we could not get the necessary cooperation.”

To date, Munodawafa has not been suspended.

It also remains unclear if he was interviewed by the police in the ongoing investigation targeting half-a-dozen senior former Airzim manager and Navistar officials, either as a witness or suspect.

Source : The Herald