MINISTER of Energy Samuel Undenge ordered the Zimbabwe Electricity Supply Authority (Zesa), a parastatal that falls under his ministry, to buy him a black Toyota Land Cruiser 200 series worth US$123 000.
According to sources at Zesa, the struggling parastatal, which is embroiled in the controversial awarding of tenders to ex-convict Wicknell Chivayo, bought Undenge the Land Cruiser last week through CMED.
Zesa paid CMED, which transferred the money to Toyota Zimbabwe last week, for the latest and reinvigorated Land Cruiser 200 series model which was imported from South Africa.
“Early this year Zesa made an order through CMED for the minister’s Land Cruiser at Toyota Zimbabwe which was then imported from South Africa. The total cost of the vehicle was US$123 000 inclusive of duty. However, because it was ordered as a government car, it was exempted from paying duty resulting in the power company forking out a total payment of US$95 000,” said an official.
“Toyota Zimbabwe was holding on to the Land Cruiser until confirmation of payment. On Wednesday last week Zesa paid CMED which in turn paid Toyota Zimbabwe on Thursday, so the minister was supposed to collect the vehicle on Friday last week.
“However, the car was released to CMED for further checks, including an examination of the engine size. CMED will then release the vehicle to the minister,” said the source at Zesa.
Sources at the parastatal said Undenge has been pushing employees at Zesa and CMED to ensure the vehicle is speedily released.
“Maybe because of the pressure he has been subjected to, having been caught up in energy scandals involving hundreds of millions of dollars, he was putting pressure for the vehicle to be paid for and released. He is uncertain of his future given the bad publicity; so he wanted to ensure he gets the vehicle in the shortest possible time,” said the source.
It was, however, not clear whether the transaction was approved by Treasury and the Office of the President and Cabinet.
Efforts to get a comment from Undenge were fruitless as his mobile phone went unanswered. Zesa chief executive Josh Chifamba was also not answering his mobile phone.
CMED managing director Davison Mhaka, responding through his secretary, said the information was “false”.
Government sources, however, insisted Undenge had acquired the car adding he received his initial Land Cruiser 200 series in December 2014 as part of his package as deputy minister of finance.
“It’s really amazing why the minister really wanted the vehicle while milking these struggling parastatals when he already has several vehicles. As recently as December 2014, he got a Land Cruiser 200 which he was entitled to as deputy minister of finance. He also used his position to accelerate the release of the vehicle to him,” said source.
The source said Undenge also has a Toyota Hilux which he acquired in his capacity as MP for Chimanimani East through the parliamentary vehicle scheme. He also owns a Prado and Mercedes-Benz E320. Undenge was appointed Energy minister in December 2014. He is also former minister of state for state enterprises, anti-monopolies and anti-corruption.