ENERGY and Power Development minister Samuel Undenge has distanced himself from the Zimbabwe Electricity Supply Authority’s (Zesa) decision to award tenders to companies run by controversial businessmen amid reports that some of the beneficiaries are ex-convicts and drug traffickers.
The minister’s comments come three weeks after he defended the contacts, saying the tenders were above board and that the winners were selected through a competitive process involving all bidders.
However, in an about turn this week, Undenge distanced himself from Zesa’s decision.
“Due diligence was done and the Zesa tender committee awarded the tenders to Intratrek so as to rebuild the decaying infrastructure. The minister does not sit in that tender committee so I had no role to play in the selection of tender winners,” Undenge said.
He also said when the bids for the tenders were done he was not the minister of energy, seemingly pointing a finger at his predecessor Dzimakai Mavhaire who was fired, together with former vice-president Joice Mujuru and other ministers for political reasons, by President Robert Mugabe in 2014.
“I was appointed on December 10 2014 and the process of awarding and selecting bidders was already underway so those saying the minister is responsible are ill-informed,” he said.
Last month the Zesa board said it had started the process of reviewing Intratrek’s multi-million energy deals with the Zimbabwe Power Company because of the company owners’ criminal records.
The board members want an investigation to establish whether there were no violations of the Companies and State Procurement Board (SPB) Act when Wicknell Chivayo, Intratrek’s director was awarded the contracts worth US$440 million.
Chivayo was sentenced to five years imprisonment with labour, with two years suspended, after being found guilty of stealing Z$37 665 000 through false pretence in 2004.
Former finance minister Herbert Murerwa’s board is worried that ZPC’s association with an ex-convict could pose financial and reputational risk to the organisation.
“In the past few days, the media has been awash with articles about this gentleman and of concern is that ZPC, during our term, has awarded various multi-million dollar tenders to a convicted fraudster,” a document copied to all board members reads.
Intratrek executive chairman, Ibrahim Yusuf, also has a tainted past as he is implicated in various criminal activities, including drug-trafficking, fraud and bribery. He has been accused of peddling drugs in Zambia and selling unapproved circumcision devices in South Africa.
Intratrek was awarded contracts to refurbish Harare Power Station and Munyati Power Station as well as to establish a hydro-power station at Gairezi and a 100MW solar power plant in Gwanda.
Last week, a parliamentary committee on energy heard how the State Procurement Board had awarded tenders for power plants, prepaid meters and other services in energy to companies with no capacity to deliver. SPB chairman Buzwani Mothobi admitted the tendering process was flawed and said the board would “relook” some of the contracts.