Zimbabwe News and Internet Radio

ZB digital revolution marred by same contractor who ‘fleeced’ ZESA

ZB Financial Holdings Group’s digital revolution has been marred by controversy after the organisation hired a company mired in past tender scandals to undertake the creation and installation of the new IT system for the whole group which encompasses ZB Bank, ZB Building Society, ZB Life Insurance, ZB Reinsurance, ZB Capital, ZB Transfer Secretaries, Barcelona and Qupa.

ZB announced last month that it had embarked on “an ambitious transformation programme that will see a new operating model under the mantra ONE DIGITAL ZB”.

In a communication to customers, ZB Group Chief Executive Officer, Shepherd Fungura said that there was a lot of room for improvement in how financial institutions serve customers.

The transformation of ZB Group’s IT operations he said would deliver convenience and increased value to its customers.

Research by Nehanda Radio, however, established that the company that was contracted to do the IT revolution, Rubiem Consulting, has a tainted history of breaching tender procedures.

In 2014, Rubiem and its Chief Executive Officer Dennis Magaya were accused of having been un-procedurally engaged by a government-owned telecommunications company, PowerTel Communications.

It was exposed that PowerTel flouted tender procedures by appointing Magaya and his Rubiem team as strategic experts in defiance of a State Procurement Board resolution.

Magaya as a consultant was being paid a reported US$43000 a month, a figure which caused outrage. He was pocketing a monthly salary of over $25,000 plus a bonus of $18,000, which translated into an annual salary of over $500,000.

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Initially his company Rubiem had drafted a US$30 million plan for PowerTel, and at implementation stage, the SPB had argued his company could not take part in the implementation of the strategy to avoid conflict of interest.

In that same year, then Information Minister Jonathan Moyo was forced into an embarrassing U-turn that saw him withdraw Magaya’s appointment as Zimbabwe Broadcasting Corporation (ZBC) board chair following reports of Magaya’s alleged involvement in salary and procurement scandals at national power utility, Zimbabwe Electricity Supply Authority (ZESA).

The controversial IT expert was fired within 24 hours.

In 2010, Rubiem was also caught up in a corruption case when in Swaziland they were accused of having been awarded a contract by the Swaziland Post and Telecommunications Corporation without proper procedure.

This is the same company that was given a job to undertake ZB Group’s overall IT transformation.

Ironically, as if to give credence to claims of Magaya’s alleged incompetence, ZB Group Chief Executive Officer, Shepherd Fungura’s presentation at the launch was marred with technical glitches that affected the smooth flow of the event.

He had to pause several times as visuals failed to appear on the screen projector.

Contacted for a comment, ZB Corporate Communications Manager Esther Toto did not deny or admit to the controversial procedure allegedly used in awarding the job to Rubiem Consulting.

She only sent an outdated press release dated 11 June 2022 focusing on the actual launch of the new IT system.