Govt rubbishes Chasi dismissal claims

BY ZBC Reporter

THE Government has dismissed as patently false claims by exiled former Cabinet Minister, Professor Jonathan Moyo, that the National Oil and Infrastructure Company (NOIC) received a US$1.2 billion loan from a foreign company, Sotic International.

Speaking to the Herald yesterday, the Ministry of Finance and Economic Development Permanent Secretary Mr George Guvamatanga said no such deal was ever signed.

Prof Moyo alleged that NOIC was forced to mortgage the national oil pipeline to secure the said loan.

He claimed Cde Fortune Chasi was removed from his position as Minister of Energy and Power Development because he had attempted to probe the alleged loan deal.

However, no such loan agreement was ever signed.

“The information is false. The value of the pipeline is US$300 million. Sotic could only lend money that it would have raised from its bankers unless it had free cash flows.

“Which bank would lend you US$1.2 billion against the security of an asset worth US$300 million? One of the critical tenets of lending is the purpose of the loan and the source of repayment. An international lender would not conduct adequate due diligence and lend a country $1,2 billion which will then be fraudulently diverted,” said Mr Guvamatanga.

Loans to Government are guided by the Public Debt Management Act, and any Government borrowing goes through a Debt Management Committee chaired by the Secretary for Finance with the Reserve Bank Governor and the Attorney-General being the other members of the committee.

“No loan would be captured in Government books if not approved by this committee. The approval then allows the loan to be captured into Government books for the purpose of repayment.

“It is not possible to record the loan if the loan proceeds have not been received and just like in the banks, there is also a process of the front office, middle office and back office in the Public Debt Management Office,” said Mr Guvamatanga.

The system is fool-proof and one could not just end up with a loan where the proceeds were never received and captured in the system.

Contacted for comment yesterday, Energy and Power Development secretary Engineer Gloria Magombo said only the appointing authority knew the real reasons why Advocate Chasi was sacked.

“I am sorry I cannot respond to the claims. The appointing authority is the one that can give the reasons,” she said.

Advocate Chasi could not be reached for comment as he did not pick up his phone.

However, he dismissed the claims on Twitter and clarified that he had never commissioned an investigation into any Sotic deal and that no investigation was ever done on NOIC.

“In my entire tenure at the ministry, I never caused any investigation or inquiry into anything at NOIC. I had no issues at that level.

“I must make it very very clear that I don’t harbour any bitterness regarding my current position. I accept the decision to relieve me of my position as that is the President’s prerogative,” Mr Chasi tweeted.

Prof Moyo’s latest claim is just one of several contradictory conspiracies that he has fed his followers over the last few days.

On Friday, posting a screenshot of a WhatsApp message, Moyo claimed that Mr Chasi had been fired after he “reportedly struck a deal with Glencore Industries, owners of Total”.

However, Glencore, a UK commodities company based in Switzerland, in fact, does not own Total, a French oil firm. There is no relationship between the two firms.

Challenged on that lie, Prof Moyo admitted that his claims “don’t quite add up”. It was then that Moyo changed his story to Sotic.