Registrar of Labour in the Ministry of Public Service, Labour and Social Welfare Mrs Grace Kanyayi and her deputy Mrs Nozipho Simango have been suspended on allegations that they received “irregular” payments from some leaders of National Employment Councils.
Their suspension followed preliminary investigations in a forensic audit by a local firm that exposed that the National Employment Council (NEC) for Engineering and Iron and Steel Industry had lost funds running into millions of dollars through irregular transactions.
Mrs Kanyayi and Mrs Simango, who were handling a boardroom dispute pitting two warring factions of the NEC in question, according to the preliminary findings, received $6 000 and $17 280, respectively.
Investigations are set to establish if the payments were above board.
Copies of bank transactions showed that Mrs Kanyayi received $6 000, while Mrs Simango got $17 280 from the NEC’s bank account on different dates between 2017 and 2018.
Some of the payments were made as allowances for workshops and meetings, but Government wants to investigate the validity of the allegations raised against the pair.
After the payments were allegedly made, Mrs Kanyayi was accused of covering up for the alleged abuse of the NEC’s funds by the council’s previous leadership to an extent of de-registering it on July 25 this year.
The de-registration was set aside by the High Court a few days later.
Minister of Public Service, Labour and Social Welfare Sekai Nzenza confirmed the suspension, saying investigations were underway to ascertain if the two had committed any misconduct.
“We have received complaints from the National Employment Councils regarding irregularities in the registration processes,” she said.
“A number of the complaints were anonymous. The ministry has temporarily suspended Mrs Kanyayi and another, while we carry out the necessary investigations into the basis of the complaints.”
It is alleged that the two, having received sums of money from the NEC in question, a dispute arose, resulting in some members of the executive being expelled from office on allegations of abuse of funds.
While the audit teams were still investigating the case, Mrs Kanyayi appointed a team of parallel investigators from her office, a development that was strongly opposed by the new executive of the NEC for Engineering, and Iron and Steel Industry.
The new leaders believed Mrs Kanyayi was now biased in favour of the ex-leaders.
Through their lawyers, the new executive leadership of the NEC wrote a four-paged letter to the Minister of Public Service, Labour and Social Welfare, complaining over the conduct of Mrs Kanyayi and Mrs Simango.
They, among other things, demanded an explanation from the pair on why they were being paid the monies.
“In addition, honourable minister, we are instructed to demand as follows:
1. The registrar and her assistant must explain, in writing, why they permitted themselves to receive these monies without lawful reason to do so.
2. The registrar and her assistant should be immediately relieved of any statutory duty in relation to the problems at the NEC and the minister should appoint a neutral person to assist the NEC to uncover and deal with the rot.
3. The ministry should take appropriate lawful action to discipline the registrar and her assistant.
4. The registrar and her assistant must pay back to the NEC all the amounts they unlawfully received within seven days of this letter.”
The NEC accused Mrs Kanyayi of deliberately failing to take appropriate action to protect public funds when a preliminary audit report exposed massive abuse of funds.
“The 2014 and 2015 audited accounts, reported on by two separate auditors, showed massive abuse of funds,” said the NEC.
“Again, this fact was brought to the attention of the registrar in your ministry.
“Needless to say, the registrar has been unwilling to exercise her powers to intervene and protect public funds in the face of such overwhelming evidence.
“Our client now understands this is because she has been unlawfully and fraudulently receiving payments from Mr Musagwiza out of NEC funds.
“Mrs Kanyayi and Mrs Simango have been severely compromised by these payments.”