By Mugove Tafirenyika
A parliamentary committee has recommended an investigation into the conduct of government officials, including former ministers, fingered in opaque deals involving the $200 million Gwanda solar project.
The Temba Mliswa-chaired parliamentary portfolio committee on Energy and Mining Development has also recommended the dissolution of the Zesa Holdings board, as well as that of its subsidiary, the Zimbabwe Power Company (ZPC).
Both boards are being accused of failing to do a proper due diligence before awarding the tender for the solar project to Intratek, a company linked to controversial businessman, Wicknell Chivayo.
Former Energy ministers Dzikamai Mavhaire, Elton Mangoma, Samuel Undenge and former deputy minister Munacho Mutezo were named by several stakeholders who appeared before Mliswa’s committee as having played a part in awarding the tender, which prejudiced the State.
The committee recommended that the four, who served under former president Robert Mugabe between 2013 and 2017, should be investigated for their roles in the wake of revelations that tender procedures were flouted in the awarding of the tender.
All of them, including the directors and management of Zesa and ZPC, Chivayo and several other stakeholders have previously appeared before the same committee and gave oral evidence on different occasions.
“The Zimbabwe Republic Police (ZRP) and Zimbabwe Anti-Corruption Commission (Zacc) should conduct an investigation on ministers and deputy ministers implicated in the scandal at the Gwanda solar project because there was evidence of abuse of office which must be investigated,” Mliswa said, while presenting his committee’s report in the National Assembly.
He said ZPC should terminate the contract with Intratek and take over the project, given that Chivayo has a criminal record and has failed to perform.
The committee said it reached the decision after it observed that since 2013, when the project was first put to tender, until the end of its enquiry last month, no meaningful progress had been made in its establishment “largely due to bureaucratic bungling and corruption, among other issues”.
“The minister of Energy and Power Development needs to immediately appoint a new board for the entity, which is professional and has the requisite skills considering issues of gender and regional representation.
“The money paid to Intratek should be recovered after investigations are concluded; disciplinary hearings must be conducted for all executives who violated regulations and procedures,” the report recommends.
Intratek and ZPC signed an Engineering, Procurement and Construction (EPC) contract for the 100 megawatt Dema solar project in October 2015.
Intratek was paid $2 million to carry out a feasibility study and $5 million for site establishment works, ground clearance and construction access roads at the project site, despite not having a bank guarantee and nothing meaningful was done at the site.
The $7 million was even paid before the parastatal had secured land for the project.
In March, ZPC management told Parliament that they had completed their internal probe on how Intratek was awarded the project.
It was also revealed that a report had been made to the police and Zacc.
ZPC board chairperson Stanley Kazhanje was at pains to explain how they failed to establish Chivayo’s previous conviction when he appeared before the committee in March.
It also emerged during the board’s appearance before Parliament that Kazhanje’s private electrical company provided technical services to Intratek and was paid $10 000.
When he appeared before the committee, Chivayo explained that the contract he signed with Zesa stated that prior to the commencement of the EPC contract, the employer and the contractor may, subject to availability of funds, agree to undertake all or part of the initial activities following the contract’s effective date.
During its investigations, Mliswa’s committee conducted oral evidence sessions with the current minister of Energy and Power Development, Simon Khaya Moyo, the permanent secretary Patson Mbiriri as well as officials from the Procurement Regulatory Authority.
In order to verify the evidence gathered in the meetings, the committee went on to visit the project site on February 28 this year. Daily News