SPB cancels solar tender

Lloyd Gumbo Senior Reporter
The State Procurement Board has cancelled price bids from four companies that complied with the technical and funding tender for 300 megawatts solar projects, further hamstringing Government’s quest to find a solution to perennial power shortages. The tenders were for Insukamini, Munyati and Gwanda at 100MW each.

The cancellation is despite displeasure expressed by Cabinet over the delay that has characterised the tender. It is the second time that the tender has been delayed due to administrative bungling. The SPB accused Zimbabwe Power Company managing director Mr Noah Gwariro of bungling the tendering process by “violating standard procedures”.

Mr Gwariro is accused of issuing an addendum to three of the four technically and financially compliant companies without approval from the procurement board. He is alleged to have issued an addendum to Intratek Zimbabwe, ZTE Corporation and No 17 Metallurgical Construction while side-lining China Jiangxi.

The addendum sought to change the price from Cost, Insurance and Freight (CIF) to Delivery Duty Paid (DDP).

SPB principal officer, Mr Cledwyn Nyanhete, wrote to bidders last week advising them that as a result of Mr Gwariro’s violation of standards procedure, the price envelope had to be cancelled.

“Stage two with respect to commercial envelopes of tender no. ZPC HO/10 /2012, be and is hereby cancelled for;

Improper handling of the addendum on DDP prices by the accounting officer (Mr Gwariro) between October 24, 2014, in contravention of Section 31 (1) (f) of the Procurement Act as read with clause 3.3 at page 6 of 30 of part A of the RFP (request for proposal) which required amendments to tender solicitation documents to be circulated to all bidders not less than seven days before tender closing date,” said Mr Nyanhete.

He added that the other reason for cancelling the price bid was the rejection of proposed addendum by two of the four technically compliant bidders.

Efforts to get a comment from Mr Gwariro were unfruitful yesterday.

However, a source said cancelling the price bid over Cost, Insurance and Freight (CIF) to Delivery, Duty Paid (DDP) was not warranted since it was immaterial.

“Moving from CIF to DDP is a factor of local Zimra rates that are established by statute,” said the source. “Comparing price on CIF as recommended by the ZPC does not prejudice any bidder and the SPB direction is baseless. The action has implications of disqualifying the bidders on the basis that changes in the prices would lead to disqualification.

“If a bidder did not quote duty and VAT and includes it in the revision, they are disqualified. If they maintain original price structure, they would be in the same situation of non-compliance to the new proposal.” A procurement expert said CIF for exports was an international practice given the fact that duty and VAT differed from country to country while CIF represented the reliable base to compare costs.

SPB chairperson, Mr Charles Kuwaza, declined to shed light on the circumstances surrounding the tender yesterday, claiming that seeking information on the subject was in violation of the Official Secrets Act and the Procurement Act.