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Govt seized with Univern’s “haywire” contract with ZINARA: Minister

Government says it is taking steps to re-negotiate the ‘haywire’ contract signed between Univern Enterprises and the Zimbabwe National Roads Authority (ZINARA) following an outcry over the “flouting of procurement procedures” during the tender.

Auditor General’s previous reports accused ZINARA of flouting procurement procedures when it awarded Univern several contracts to supply software and other services without going to tender.

The contracts entered into are Public Private Partnerships, but the actual amount that Univern invested is not known and the deal is running for as long as 10 years, with the latter getting 21% of every dollar for vehicle licensing.

Univern is also pocketing a cool 3.4% on every dollar paid for radio licenses and 14% per dollar on transit fees, excluding VAT.

Norton MP Temba Mliswa
Norton MP Temba Mliswa

Norton legislator Temba Mliswa on Wednesday asked Transport Minister Felix Mhona why the government was not approaching companies that were given tenders to upgrade tollgates to expand them.

“What are you doing to approach those companies which were given contracts and are still making money, especially Univern who have a contract which I am told will last for years and years yet they are not performing according to expectations because Government at times takes the burden when it is not supposed to take the burden? The contractor must be able to expand things accordingly because they are making money,” Mliswa asked during a Parliament sitting.

Mhona responded by describing the contract between Univern and ZINARA as “haywire”. He added the government was working on making sure the deal has a termination date.

“Hon. Mliswa has cited a company called Univern. If you then interrogate after the Auditor-General’s report, you find that some of the issues and in the first republic that were being talked of in terms of the implementation matrix, the company in this particular case ZINARA, was resisting some of the digitalisation of the institution.

“It is very clear and if you then go to that same company, it would tell you how many cars have passed through a tollgate but that information was not being shared by the company. So, these are some of the issues that we are also addressing as a Ministry.

“In terms of their contracts that were just haywire, we have amalgamated the contracts to say we cannot have contracts that will run in perpetuation and we must have a contract that has got a termination date.

“This has been what the institution has been seized with in order to try to harmonise all those haywire contracts so that we have got one vibrant contract that will specify the terms and conditions, and deliverables so that no one does not doubt what one is covering,” he said.

Parliamentarians especially former Public Accounts chairperson Tendai Biti has been clear that the deal between ZINARA and Univern was tantamount to looting of taxpayers’ money. Nehanda Radio

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