FORMER Energy minister Dzikamai Mavhaire, a top ally of former
Vice-President Joice Mujuru, has been fingered in the flouting of Zesa
tender rules during his tenure where in three instances he allegedly
awarded multi-million-dollar contracts without following laid-down
This came out yesterday when Zimbabwe Electricity Transmission and Distribution Company (ZETDC) management and members of the State Procurement Board (SPB) appeared before the Daniel Shumba-led Parliamentary Portfolio Committee on Mines and Energy to give oral evidence.
Secretary for Energy Patson Mbiriri was also implicated in the alleged scam.
Mavhaire lost his ministerial post early last year after he was linked to the alleged plot by Mujuru to unconstitutionally topple President Robert Mugabe in the Zanu PF succession politics.
Mavhaire is now one of the top officials in Mujuru’s opposition Zimbabwe People First (ZimPF), where he is in charge of membership recruitment.
In one of the irregularities, Mavhaire and Mbiriri allegedly ordered that Powertel be awarded the tender for ZETDC third party vending for pre-paid electricity, and yet the company had not gone through the tender processes and had no capacity to run the project.
After being awarded the electricity token contract, Powertel sub-contracted E-Solutions through an allegedly illegal tender to supply ICT infrastructure for electricity tokens and were fined $900 for the “misdeed”.
The ex-minister’s directive is said to have disadvantaged 38 other bidders, including a company called Aura, which then blew the whistle to Parliament, asking the Legislature to investigate the scam.
The other irregularity involved the $9,8 million tender to supply electricity transformers to Mutare Power Peaking Plant, which had initially been awarded to Pito Investments, but was later cancelled after a directive from the Energy ministry that it must be awarded to Helcraw and a Zesa subsidiary company, Zent.
ZETDC managing director Julian Chinembiri, his lawyer Saidi Sankulu and procurement administrator Isaac Chikobvu initially tried to dodge the issue, but later conceded the irregularities, saying they had no choice but to follow government directives.
Chinembiri told the committee that Pito had been awarded the tender in 2010 together with Eversec to supply transformers, but they managed to supply transformers to the tune of only $1,5 million due to funding problems.
“The tender was awarded in 2010 to Pito and Eversec and after that, there was a directive from the shareholder (Energy ministry) that we needed to buy transformers from Zent, which is a sister company to ZETDC, in order to create employment locally,” Chinembiri said.
On the issue of appointing aggregators to sell electricity tokens, Chinembiri told the committee that after the 2013 elections, Mavhaire came in as minister and gave a written directive through a letter signed by Mbiriri that Powertel should be the sole aggregator and must appoint ZB Bank, CBZ Bank and NetOne as vendors.
The SPB, through chairperson Buzwani Mothobi, board members William Kurebgaseka and Engineer Martin Manhuwa, also conceded that the previous board had flouted tender procedures in respect of the Mutare Power Peaking Plant issue and electricity tokens.
Their evidence also pointed to the Energy ministry unilaterally issuing out directives to award the tenders to favoured companies without following laid-down procedures.
“I can say yes, the SPB overstepped its role and we undertake to relook at the submissions and come up with the right decisions,” Mothobi said in conceding to wrongdoing by the previous procurement board.
The committee said what happened was unfair, criminal and against the spirit of competition. ZETDC and SPB were ordered to give further written evidence about the ministry’s involvement.
Government is believed to have lost large sums of money through shady tenders awarded to “dubious tenderpreneurs”, some with criminal records.
Early this month, SPB principal officer Cledwyn Nyanhete was sent on forced leave to facilitate investigations into alleged underhand deals at the institution.
Government last November sacked then SPB executive chairman Charles Kuwaza in a shake-up that insiders said was meant to appease nervous multilateral institutions who were jittery over the manner tenders were being handled. newsday