Zesa should review deals

AS reported by the Zimbabwe Independent last week, corruption-ridden Zesa is again embroiled in a fresh tender scandal in which convicted fraudster Wicknell Chivayo was awarded another US$113 million deal on top of several others by the company’s subsidiary, Zimbabwe Power Company (ZPC), despite lacking capacity and resources to implement the project.


Zimbabwe Independent Comment

It has since been established by a due diligence exercise carried out by ZPC that Chivayo’s Intratrek and his Indian partners, Jaguar Overseas Limited (JOL), neither had the capacity nor resources to carry out expansion works at Munyati thermal power station.

Intratrek, which has no previous experience or proven record in power projects, was awarded the Munyati contract on November 12 2015 to rehabilitate and modernise the 61-year-old thermal energy power plant.

New documents seen by the Independent this week show Chivayo was awarded the Munyati tender even though Zesa’s subsidiary ZPC already knew fully well that JOL had failed to access US$52 million for the much cheaper Harare II Repowering Project the company had contracted to do on August 4 2014.

On winning the Harare project tender, which was valued at US$70,18m, JOL made an unsuccessful application for funding to the Exim Bank of India. This raises questions as to why Zesa awarded Intratrek and JOL the more costly US$113m Munyati project.

To finance such inflated projects, the country’s power utility has to constantly consider tariff hikes to boost its financial muscle to bankroll the corrupt expansion works. In other words, customers are being asked to subsidise corruption. The awarding of tenders to inexperienced dodgy contractors by government not only mirrors the level of corruption writ large, but also impunity by the corrupt elements.

An investigation in 2010 by our sister paper Mail & Guardian in South Africa identified Intratrek executive chairman Ibrahim Yusuf as a seller of “pill packages” used by mandrax smugglers and illegal circumcision gadgets.

The dodgy businessman was named in a 1985 Zambian court judgment and the Zambia’s Drug Enforcement Commission was quoted as saying Yusuf “is a well-known drug trafficker”.

But in partnership with his local partner, Chivayo, Yusuf has got several government projects through the back door.

Two years ago, Intratrek announced it was partnering a company called Green Solar Europa to build a US$350 million solar power station. After the project went to tender, the State Procurement Board awarded the contract to China Jiangxi Corporation on grounds it had presented the lowest bid of US$184 million. In a clear case of corruption, ZPC approached Jiangxi and demanded that it partner Intratrek.

By so doing, government has put over US$700m worth of the country’s critical power projects in the hands of a middleman and fronts who are convicted fraudsters and drug traffickers. What sort of government does that? How can authorities allow such brazen corruption? Zesa must urgently review and reverse all these corrupt deals.

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