By Oliver Kazunga
The Zimbabwe National Road Administration (Zinara) could have been prejudiced of about US$71,5 million in special projects undertaken with a number of “questionable and dubious” contractors between 2012 and 2015, according to the Public Accounts Committee.
The Committee, whose report was presented before Parliament last week, has also revealed that during the same period, Zinara was prejudiced of about ZAR31,5 million through shoddy deals.
According to the committee, Zinara has no authority in terms of the Roads Act (Chapter 13 :18) of entering into any special contracts with any contractors.
“Zinara executed special projects with many questionable and dubious contractors, which cost the organisation the sums of US$71 487 896, 21 and R31 452 102, 53.
“The Committee makes the finding that Zinara has no authority in terms of the Roads Act [Chapter 13:18] of entering into any special contracts with any contractors,” said the Committee.
It highlighted that Zinara was a Road Fund whose sole function is to distribute resources to road authorities who are in fact local authorities.
In this context, the committee concluded that the huge amounts of US$71,5 million and ZAR31,5 million that were spent in respect of the said contracts were done illegally and outside the laws of Zimbabwe.
The Committee said it further established that in a majority of the special projects, there was no delivery, performance and oversight by the Zinara board.
“The special projects were nothing other than looting of resources by the executive of Zinara in connivance with corrupt contractors,” it said.
The Committee recommended that Zinara, on a case-by-case basis, with the assistance where necessary of experts, must endeavour to recover any amounts paid to contractors who did not perform or render services in terms of their contracts.
“The recoveries must be made within a period of 12 months from the adoption of this report; Zinara must recover all payments made without any underlying contractual basis, without any Interim Payments Certificate (IPC), for instance the payments to MADZ Construction of US$3,650 million and ZAR1,192 million;
“Zinara must evaluate and assess the involvement of all its employees during the period covered by the audit report and take appropriate disciplinary action within three months of the adoption of this report,” it said.
On the Plumtree-Mutare Highway upgrading project, the Committee noted that the project covered by the Development Bank of Southern Africa Limited (DBSA) and Infralink (Private) Limited was a proper Public Private Partnership (PPP).
“The Committee makes the finding that Zimbabwe must express gratitude to the Republic of South Africa and to DBSA for providing a loan of US$206 million at a time no other country was willing to provide Zimbabwe with any resources.
“Zimbabwe must, therefore, honour its contracts in respect of the Plumtree to Mutare Highway project.
“However, to the extent that some of the conditions of this contracts are now too onerous for Zinara, the Committee makes the finding that Zinara must renegotiate these contracts to suit the limited scope and capacity,” it said.
The Committee has also directed Transport and Infrastructural Development Minister Felix Mhona to, within three months of the presentation of its report to Parliament, present a report to Parliament on the Plumtree-Mutare Highway project and all other incidental issues including the result or status of the renegotiation process.
As part of its routine work, the Committee said it received and analysed the 2017 and 2018 Auditor General’s Report for State Enterprises and Parastatals.
In the process of its work on Zinara, the Committee said, was then alerted of the existence of a March 2017 Special Forensic Audit Report that was carried out by Grant Thornton on behalf of the Auditor General at the special instance and request of the then Minister of Transport and Infrastructural Development. The Chronicle