Zupco fails to buy 250 buses

Conrad Dube

ZIMBABWE United Passenger Company (Zupco)’s bid to acquire 250 new buses has been scuttled by its failure to raise the $150 billion demanded by three companies awarded the tender.
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Documents in the possession of the Zimbabwe Independent show that Zupco’s plans to revive its fleet have been affected by lack of funding, although government had initially promised finance.

Controversy has rocked the transport parastatal, with chief executive officer Bright Matonga resigning under unclear circumstances after reports of financial audits unearthed anomalies, the documents reveal.

Most of the $150 billion is required to pay foreign suppliers in hard currency for body kits and components.

According to minutes of a special meeting on August 23, the board accepted Matonga’s resignation after he failed to provide satisfactory responses to issues relating to Zupco’s finances.

“The board had a closed session where they discussed in detail issues relating to the audit report and resolved to accept the resignation of the chief executive (Matonga) and to task the human resources committee to consider the proposed package,” the minutes of the meeting chaired by Professor Charles Nherera said. The board also resolved that the financial controller, Perpetual Ndekwere, act as chief executive.

Ndekwere yesterday refused to comment referring all questions to Nherera. Nherera said Matonga was on leave until September 30.

According to tender documents obtained by the Independent dated July 30, the state procurement board awarded the tender to supply the buses to Deven Engineering (Pvt) Ltd, W Dahmer & Co (Pvt) Ltd, and Zimbabwe Motor Distributors (Pvt) Ltd (ZMD).

Deven and ZMD were to supply 40 Mercedes Benz 1722 model buses apiece, each costing $644 million and $590 million respectively while W Dahmer would supply 170 Scania F94 buses at $610 451 050 each.

It has also turned out that the Zupco board ignored the procurement committee’s re-commendations on the tenderers. The committee had unanimously agreed to award the tender to Gift Investments, importing from Kenya General Motors.

“This should assist in meeting the targeted dates for supply of the buses,” the procurement committee said in its minutes of a meeting dated July 5.

The committee agreed that the buses from Gift Investments were the most suitable and were the cheapest. Gift Investments wanted to supply Isuzu conventional buses at a cost of $549 million each.

The three companies that were awarded the tender asked to be paid between 50% and 80% upfront, which Zupco has failed to raise.

It is now feared the local companies might not meet the deadline for the supply of the buses. At least 150 buses were to be delivered by September 30 and the remaining 100 by December 31.

Matonga, who was set free by a magistrate’s court last month after being accused of corruption involving $1,25 billion, was expected to hand over the reins to Ndekwere at an unspecified date.

The state accused Matonga of buying 48 Scania Marcopolo buses from Pioneer Motor Company (PMC) without board approval.

“The outgoing chief executive (Matonga) should conduct an initial handover/takeover with the acting chief executive (Ndekwere) and to avail himself as and when he is required to continue to provide information that might be necessary,” the minutes say.

It also resolved to send two chief operating officers, Clever Zvingwe and Ben Mauchaza, on forced leave with immediate effect to facilitate investigations arising from the external audit report.

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