Factional politics rock power project

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A partial view of the Dema Emergency Power Plant.

THE US$200 million Dema Emergency Power Plant project has become the subject of an explosive fresh Zanu PF factional fight among lawmakers in the Mines and Energy Portfolio Committee. Clashes have erupted as some MPs are pushing for an investigation into the corrupt deal, while others are resisting the demand amid accusations of partisan political interests and corruption, it has been established.

By Bernard Mpofu

This has split the Daniel Shumba-led committee, which is currently investigating a number of projects, including the Dema deal. A group in the committee led by Shumba is now at war with another led by Mazowe West MP Kazembe Kazembe, but publicly fronted by Norton lawmaker Temba Mliswa.

The Shumba group is being accused of trying to shield Sakunda Holdings chief executive Kuda Tagwirei, who is working with Derrick Chikore, brother to President Robert Mugabe’s son-in-law Simba.

Simba is married to Mugabe’s daughter Bona.

Even though Tagwirei is associated with some people who support a Zanu PF faction backing Vice-President Emmerson Mnangagwa to be president, like General Constantino Chiwenga, he is being accused of feasting with a rival faction which has coalesced around First Lady Grace Mugabe and her G40 camp.

Late last month war veterans leader Chris Mutsvangwa, who is strongly backing Mnangagwa, came out in the open saying the deal is a money-spinning project for G40 and not a national project.

Shumba is being accused of leaning towards G40, thus shielding the project implementers from appearing in parliament, although previously he has worked with Mnangagwa during the Tsholotsho Zanu PF succession battle in 2004.

Shumba was one of the six Zanu PF provincial chairpersons who was suspended in the aftermath of a failed palace coup to boost Mnangagwa’s ascendancy.

However, he has broken away from the faction and is now seen as backing G40, although he personally denies this saying he is not loyal to any faction but Mugabe alone.

The Zimbabwe Independent has reported extensively on the dodgy Dema Emergency Power Plant project which has an inflated cost structure. The cost of the Dema project escalated alarmingly from US$249 million to US$498 million over three years, after the government directed the controversial project’s managers to double its output to 200 megawatts at US$166 million per year at a time the country is failing to pay for power imports.

The Parliamentary Portfolio Committee on Mines and Energy has visited the Dema project, among other power generation plants such as Hwange and Kariba to assess the situation.

Questions arising out of the Dema deal include how Sakunda got the contract without going to tender; how United States power giant APR Energy Holdings was sidelined after winning the tender; who is behind the project; how they are being paid and how much they have so far received; how much fuel has been imported duty-free and how it has been used; what are the electricity tariffs involved; cost of the project; how much power has been generated and all the processes involved, among other issues like the cost-benefit analysis, its overall utility to the nation and whether it is the best alternative available.

The Zimbabwe Power Company, which commissioned the project, could have saved approximately US$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 200MW plant.

The contract, likely to run for three years, was initially set at US$194 million a year, but has been reduced to US$83 million following pressure from the media and Zimbabwe Electricity Supply Authority officials.

The Dema project sparked outrage as it became increasingly clear that electricity consumers and taxpayers would be further burdened with the project’s unsustainable and unjustifiable costs.

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