Heads to roll at zesa

Sunday News (Zimbabwe) - - Front Page - De­bra Matabvu Harare Bureau

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

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