Heads to roll at zesa
A COMPREHENSIVE inquiry into shenanigans dogging Zesa over irregular tender and procurement processes at the power utility is expected to be handed over to President Emmerson Mnangagwa in a fortnight amid indications that several heads will roll.
Early this year, the President initiated a probe into the affairs at Zesa and its subsidiaries after widespread concerns of underhand dealings that were benefiting certain individuals at the expense of the fiscus.
President Mnangagwa has singled out corruption as one of the reasons being stifled development and pledged to deal with the vice. A special anticorruption unit has since been established in his office and is understood to have lined up several cases for prosecution.
Information gathered by our Harare Bureau shows that a team of investigators tasked to look into the affairs at Zesa is compiling its findings into a comprehensive document for onward submission to the Head of State. The forensic audit is looking into the operations at various Zesa subsidiaries since 2014.
Of major interest is the awarding of the recently completed Kariba South expansion project tender and the Dema Emergency Power Plant. Tenders awarded to China Jiangxi Corporation (CJC), ZTE Corporation and Intratrek Zimbabwe (Pvt) Ltd, owned by Harare businessman Wicknell Chivayo, are also being looked in to.
In an interview last week, the Minister of Energy and Power Development, Dr Jorum Gumbo said the report and its subsequent implementation are top priority. He said the forensic audit findings will be presented to President Mnangagwa after its finalisation and corrective action will be taken thereafter.
Dr Gumbo, who was re-assigned to the ministry a fortnight ago, said the report is one of his first major tasks.
“I am looking at a forensic audit that has already been initiated by his Excellency, President Mnangagwa. This is one of my first priorities. I was briefed on the audit report on Thursday (last week) and they (the probe team) are going to come with a final audit report in two weeks.
“I am sure you have heard of many issues, the Chivayo issue (Gwanda solar project), the Dema Diesel Plant, Kariba and Batoka power projects. The audit will cover all the subsidiaries that were under Zesa. It will also look at the energy deals and everything else that has been going on there. Once it is done, we will take corrective action where it needs to be taken.”
Zesa has been rocked by massive tender scandals. Former Energy Minister Samuel Undenge is currently before the courts facing charges of criminal abuse of office and fraudulently awarding of power project contracts without following proper tender processes.
In 2016, Mr Undenge is alleged to have handpicked a public relations company owned by former Zanu-PF legislator Psychology Maziwisa and former ZBC news anchor Oscar Pambuka to do consultancy work for Zimbabwe Power Company without going to tender.
The former minister is also being accused of corruptly awarding the Gwanda solar project to Intratrek Zimbabwe. The State argues that Intratrek was awarded the deal at the instigation of Dr Undenge, resulting in ZPC losing over $5 million.
The Gairezi Project was also awarded to a consortium led by Chivayo’s Intratek. The deal raised eyebrows after its cost shot up to US$248 million from the initial US$90 million budget. On the Kariba South Power Extension project, which was officially commissioned by former President Robert Mugabe in September 2014, US$355 million had been initially budgeted for, but its cost shot to US$533 million.
Dr Jorum Gumbo