It said while section 11 of the Public Entities Corporate Governance Act (PECGA) forbids Permanent Secretaries to be on boards of public entities, section 43 of the same Act allows a public entity to be exempted from any sections of the Act & lays down the process for that.
“ZIMRA was granted a s11 exemption,” the ministry said.
The law which clearly states: “no Permanent Secretary of a line or other Ministry shall be appointed to or hold office as a member of any such board” was aimed at avoiding conflict as the permanent secretary is the accounting officer for each ministry to whom all the departments and enterprises report.
Some permanent secretaries had also become one-member boards and passed decisions which had serious repercussions on the country’s finances.
Section 43 says: The Minister may by notice in writing to the public entity concerned, exempt the entity from any provision of this Act, where the Minister is satisfied, on the basis of representations from the line Minister, that there are compelling reasons for the exemption in view of-
(a) the nature or size of the entity; or
(b) any unusual difficulty the entity may encounter in complying with the provision;
and may in similar fashion amend or withdraw any such exemption:
Provided that the line Minister and Minister shall together, no later than thirty days after the end of the financial year of the public entity in question in which the exemption was granted, review the necessity for continuing the exemption and, if needed, amend or withdraw it.
The reason, nature and extent of every exemption in favour of a public entity must be notified in the annual report of the entity immediately following the grant of the exemption.
The head of the Unit shall ensure that a list of all exemptions granted in terms of subsection ( l ), specifying their terms and conditions and the reason why they were granted, is kept at the Unit’s offices where it may be inspected by members of the public at all reasonable times during the Unit’s business hours. In addition, the list of exemptions shall be kept available in electronic form for inspection by members of the public on the website of the Unit.
The ZIMRA website has so far not changed its board members though members of the previous board were suspended in October.