Energy minister Samuel Undenge, who is in the eye of a storm following revelations that the country’s controversial power-generation projects were inflated by more than US$500 million, has effectively blamed (Zesa) chief executive officer Josh Chifamba and Zimbabwe Power Company (ZPC) managing director Noah Gwariro for the scandals.
Zesa is rocked by a massive tender scandal in which government has entrusted the country’s critical multi-billion-dollar energy projects to dodgy businessmen who have criminal records, ranging from fraud to drug trafficking.
Undenge has also been under pressure following revelations that ZPC, a subsidiary of Zesa, paid Intratrek US$5 million in the absence of a bank and performance guarantee. Intratek is owned by controversial businessman Wicknell Chivayo.
The minister was also accused of ordering Zesa Holdings to hire Fruitful Communications, a firm linked to Zanu PF Highfield West MP Psychology Maziwisa and Zimbabwe Broadcasting Services anchorman Oscar Pambuka, to carry out a media campaign despite the fact that Zesa has its own public relations department for that specific purpose.
Undenge last month said the power tenders were above, but later made an about turn saying he had nothing to do with their awarding.
In a statement published yesterday, Undenge said in terms of the State Procurement Act, tenders relating to state enterprises or parastatals are administered by the head of the appropriate state enterprise or parastatal, meaning Chifamba and Gwariro in this case.
“Accordingly, tenders to Zesa Holdings or any of its four subsidiaries are administered by the group chief executive officer or relevant managing director as appropriate. They determine the necessary terms of reference and specifications, adjudicate on the bids and recommend direct to the State Procurement Board who the recommended winning tenderer is and the reasons thereof,” the statement.
“The State Procurement Board reviews the process, inclusive of the recommendation and pass their own judgement.
“The minister is informed regarding progress on same through the returns or reports of each state enterprise or parastatal. One hopes that this account dispels the unfortunate misunderstanding that seems to prevail that my ministry decides on tenders relating to Zesa Holdings and its subsidiaries.
“For the avoidance of doubt, the management of these entities tenders are the responsibility of the relevant accounting officers in respect of their tenders and the ministry is not involved nor does it interfere with processes.”
Efforts to get a comment from Chifamba were fruitless as his mobile was not reachable, while Gwariro, who was involved in a serious road accident, was said to be still recovering. Undenge said ZPC blundered in the US$5 million advance payment of public funds to Intratek without following standard requirement that a bank guarantee is secured against possible failure to deliver.