FOUR former Energy ministers, who served under ex-President Robert Mugabe between 2013 and 2017 are being investigated for allegedly turning the Zimbabwe Power Company (ZPC) into their feeding trough, where they flouted tender procedures to line their pockets.
BY VENERANDA LANGA
This was revealed yesterday, when the ZPC board appeared before the Temba Mliswa-led Mines and Energy Portfolio Committee and implicated former Energy ministers, Elton Mangoma (MDC-T), Dzikamai Mavhaire (Zanu PF), Samuel Undenge (Zanu PF) and former Energy deputy minister Munacho Mutezo (Zanu PF), as having played different roles in the awarding of shady energy supply deals to businessman, Wicknell Chivayo’s Intratek and paying him $5,6 million without a bank guarantee in the $200 million Gwanda Solar Project.
The board told Parliament that Chivayo, and all those implicated were now being probed by the Zimbabwe Anti-Corruption Commission (Zacc) and Zimbabwe Republic Police (ZRP).
The board refused to further elaborate on the action to be taken against Chivayo, for fear of jeopardising investigations into the matter.
ZPC board chairperson, Stanley Kazhanje was at pains to explain how they failed to check Intratek’s CR14 forms, as required by the Companies Act to see if Chivayo was not a convicted criminal.
It also emerged during the hearing that Kazhanje’s private electrical company provided technical services to Chivayo’s Intratek and was paid $10 000.
When asked to explain if there was political interference, he failed to give a precise response.
ZPC board member and chairperson of the power utility’s finance and procurement committee, Thandiwe Mlobane then implicated Mangoma, Undenge, Mavhaire and Mutezo, accusing them of issuing ministerial directives to suspended ZPC managing director, Noah Gwariro to award Chivayo the tender, and to pay him the $5,6 million without a bank guarantee.
“Gwariro was involved in a very serious accident, which left him unable to move or speak, but we knew there was political pressure on Gwariro to pay Chivayo the $5,6 million without the bank guarantee, but we wanted to hear it from Gwariro and it was until December (2017), when he got better when we pointed out to him that the Labour Act would have protected him from listening to political pressure from the ministers,” she said.
“Even for Intratek to be awarded the contract in 2013 (Mangoma’s tenure), it was political and even the deputy Energy minister Mutezo gave a go-ahead that he must be awarded.
“Mangoma gave a go-ahead for the feasibility study and Intratek even sought the assistance of Mutezo, and Mavhaire awarded the contract, while the pressure for the money to be paid without a bank guarantee came from Undenge.”
Mliswa said it was shocking that all this happened during Mugabe’s era and no action was taken.
He said ZPC seemed oblivious of the corruption and were only opening up now, following Mugabe’s ouster last November.
It also emerged that while ZPC paid Chivayo $5,6 million, Zesa was failing to pay $4 million to struggling Hwange Colliery Company.
Magwegwe MP, Anele Ndebele said ZPC had let the country down to the extent that Kazhanje himself must have resigned as board chairperson after the saga.
It also came out during the committee proceedings that Kazhanje’s ZPC board was not appointed by Zesa, but by Mavhaire.
“The board was appointed by Mavhaire, but in terms of corporate governance principles, it was supposed to be appointed by its subsidiary company, Zesa,”she said.
Zesa group chief executive officer, Josh Chifamba added: “The problems we had, particularly with this contract, were that it was political and there was clear political interference.
“It is a pity that corporate governance principles were not adhered to.”
Before ZPC made its appearance before the committee, the current Procurement Regulatory Authority chairperson, Vimbai Nyemba and chief executive officer, Nyasha Chizu told legislators that procurement procedures were not followed.
“The tender documents came from the ZPC accounting officer, but the then State Procurement Board (SPB) had a large input, and usually corruption happens at planning stage.
“It happens behind the scenes,” Nyemba said.
Chizu said the initial Gwanda Solar Project tender was awarded to Chinese company, China Jiangxi in 2013.
He said Intratek then approached the SPB then chaired by the late Charles Kuwaza and said they would match China Xiangxi’s price of $252 million and wanted the tender.
“In my opinion it was a violation of the Procurement Act.
“ZPC should have done due diligence to ensure that Chivayo was not a convicted criminal.
“The tender was done in 2013 and it was after Chivayo’s conviction, which means the Registrar of Companies slept on duty to allow his company Intratek to be registered,” he said.
Chizu said China Xiangxi was awarded the tender in terms of the Procurement Act and the process was supposed to end there.
“There were things happening in the background, which former SPB boss, Kuwaza allowed.”