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Tagwirei accused of stealing US$46 million on Mbudzi roundabout deal

President Emmerson Mnangagwa and his ally, business tycoon Kudakwashe Tagwirei, are being accused of stealing at least US$46 million through a US$88 million contract awarded to the latter for the construction of the Mbudzi interchange flyover.

Through his company Fossil Contracting, fronted by Obey Chimuka, which specialises in civil works, contract mining, road construction, earth works, building, structural works and plant hire, Tagwirei was initially awarded US$85 million contract to construct the Mbudzi interchange flyover.

The contract whose price was revised to US$88 million is shared by Fossil and a consortium called TEFOMA that consists of Tensor Construction, Fossil Contracting and Masimba Holdings.

Hopewell Chin’ono, a prominent investigative journalist on Thursday revealed that he was advised by South African engineers who designed Mbudzi roundabout that the “real” cost of the project was US$42 million. Accordingly, this means that taxpayers were defrauded US$46 million.

“I have just spoken to the South African engineers who designed the Mbudzi roundabout,” Chin’ono said.

“They told me that it’s real cost is US$42 million max, not the US$85 million (Ministry of Transport later on corrected it to US$88 million) being paid to Tagwirei. Below is the real plan which they sent to me.”

The Ministry responded to Chin’ono by admitting that US$88 million was paid to Tagwirei and his partners. It, however, tried to justify the large amount by claiming that the deal went through proper procurement procedures.

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“The Mbudzi Interchange design Engineers were procured in accordance with the Procurement Act. The winning design consultancy firm has both South African and Zimbabwean registered engineers as per the laws governing engineering practice,” the Ministry said.

“As standard practice, on completion of design, the Engineers provided the estimate of construction cost USD65 million for the Interchange only and the Engineers stand by that figure.

“The total cost of the Interchange includes diversion roads from Stoneridge, Hopley, Forbes and Malvern in Waterfalls back to Beatrice road which are currently under construction. These diversion roads are a total of 8km.

“This includes the missing link of Harare Drive from Masotsha Ndlovu into Houghton Park traffic circle and the bridge across Mukuvisi which brings the total cost of the Interchange to USD88 million exclusive VAT charges”.

Tagwirei, through Fossil Group, is receiving millions of dollars from the Zanu-PF government led by his business colleague Mnangagwa for road construction contracts.

Another one of his many companies, Landela Investments, reportedly received US$110 million from the government to import buses for the state run Zimbabwe United Passenger Company (ZUPCO).

The United States Department of the Treasury’s Office of Foreign Assets Control (OFAC) has since slapped the business tycoon and his Sakunda Holdings with sanctions for allegedly providing support to the Zanu PF regime and promoting corruption.

Last year, Tagwirei, after being sanctioned for corruption, continued to do business by relocating his network to Mauritius. Nehanda Radio