AUDITOR-General Mildred Chiri has raised the red flag over Zimbabwe Manpower Development Fund (Zimdef) finances amounting to almost a million dollars which were used for payment of science technology engineering mathematics (STEM) services without following procurement procedures.
BY VENERANDA LANGA
In her 2017 audit report, Chiri listed AB Communications owned by former Information Communication Technology minister Supa Mandiwanzira as having been paid $563 945 for services rendered, but without following procurement procedures.
“Zimdef paid a number of suppliers for services rendered for the science technology engineering mathematics. However, there was no evidence to support that the procurement procedures were followed since the directive to pay these suppliers was from the Higher and Tertiary Education ministry,” Chiri said.
“The risk was that payments were made for services not rendered or for services that were not for the benefit of the fund.”
Apart from AB Communications, which was paid ($563 945), other companies that were paid for unclear services were Troika Design ($270 023), Higher and Tertiary Education ministry
($196 474), MOTEC Management Services ($70 000), Fuzzy Technologies ($185 840), Seven Bridges ($169 447) and Tsholotsho Rural District Council ($19 500).
Former Higher Education minister Jonathan Moyo, who initiated the STEM programme, used to be Tsholotsho North MP.
When asked to respond to Chiri’s findings, Zimdef management said where the Higher Education ministry directs that payment be made directly to suppliers, it is assumed that tender procedures would have been done at the ministry since the ministry would have identified the suppliers.
They said Zimdef was not the procurement agent for all beneficiaries.
However, in her evaluation of the Zimdef management response, Chiri said companies such as Troika Design and AB Communications started preliminary work on behalf of the Higher Education ministry before tender procedures were done.
“In addition, the companies were identified as the sole preferred providers by the principals. However, this was inconsistent with informal tender procurement procedures and there was no evidence to support that authority was sought from the State Procurement Board for sole supplier purchase,” the AG said.
Chiri also noted that some payments were made from the fund through the line item “contingencies for the Ministry of Higher Education”, which were outside the mandate of the fund.
She noted that there were directives to pay invoices without at least three competitive quotations.
Some of the payments included a donation of $20 000 to the Zanu PF conference, food and accommodation for memorial services ($26 621), Land Commission Bill ($1 275), hosting delegation ($15 000), sports meeting ($2 985), T-shirts for by-election which cost $29 000, and upgrading film ($3 580).
Chiri said when such donations and payments were made, visits to polytechnic colleges revealed that they were struggling with funds for equipment, resulting in lectures being more theoretical than practical.
Moyo’s former deputy Godfrey Gandawa is reportedly on the run over the issue.