THE Office of the President and Cabinet (OPC) has seized control from the Energy and Power Development ministry of the controversial US$83 million Dema Diesel Power Plant in a move aimed at ring-fencing and protecting political cronies behind the deal.
By Elias Mambo
President Robert Mugabe’s in-law, Derrick Chikore, brother to Simba who is married to the president’s daughter Bona, has an interest in the dodgy deal which was initially pegged at US$194 million-a-year. The deal has since been revised to US$83 million following an outcry from both the public and government officials.
This comes as it has emerged that a clique of people including a top military commander, business dealers and the government’s political cronies are lingering behind the scenes to get a piece of the pie in the Dema deal.
While the OPC has been supervising the project, sources said Mugabe’s office has now taken a hands-on role in the deal, taking over the functions of the Energy ministry.
“There were reports that some ministry officials were sabotaging the running of the plant resulting in government transferring it to the OPC,” said the source.
“The project implementers are now reporting directly to the OPC. Energy ministry officials have been stopped from dealing directly with the Dema project,” a source said. Another source also said: “The OPC blamed Zesa officials as well as energy ministry employees for leaking details of the deal to the media.
“We were informed that the bad publicity the project is getting was a result of officials leaking information to the media.
“What is clear is that the move to transfer it to OPC is meant to keep the deal shrouded in secrecy so that no one knows what will be happening.”
The Zimbabwe Independent first reported recently that Chikore partnered Kuda Tagwirei of Sakunda Holdings in the murky project.
Documents seen by the Independent show Sakunda was awarded the 200-megawatt project despite not participating in the tender process in the first place. The project initially went through the normal tendering process and was awarded to APR Energy Holdings, but the company was later side-lined in favour of Sakunda after intervention by the President’s Office. Despite having a higher cost structure than any of the companies which had submitted bids, Sakunda was still awarded the project through the back door.
THE Zimbabwe Power Company could have saved approximately USD$200 million over three years had it explored other alternatives such as the use of liquid petroleum gas instead of diesel powered generators at the controversial 200MW Dema Diesel Power Plant. Government has since shot down requests by Zesa to increase its tariff by 49% in an effort to cushion the costs from the Dema plant.