THE Special Anti-Corruption Unit in President Emmerson Mnangagwa’s office has opened a fresh probe into Zimbabwe National Road Administration (Zinara) senior managers over multi-million dollar vehicle insurance tender fraud, it has emerged.
By Andrew Kunambura
The probe is targeting former Zinara acting chief executive officer Moses Juma, finance director Simon Taranhike and director for human resources and administration Precious Murove.
The trio allegedly flouted tender procedures by directing insurance service providers to work with a company known as ICEcash which had not participated in a tendering process to issue electronic vehicle insurance cover notes.
The Special Anti-Corruption Unit’s chair Thabani Vusa Mpofu, an experienced prosecutor, confirmed the investigation, but declined to give further details, saying pre-empting via the press would “jeopardise investigations”.
The case has been dragging on since September 2016.
Information at hand indicates that the Insurance Council of Zimbabwe (ICZ) called for a tender to recruit and select a provider to develop a third-party electronic cover note issuance system for vehicles.
A lot of companies responded to the tender invitation and a shortlist drawn from the applicants had Courteville Solutions from Nigeria, Agilies from India, Westchase from Zimbabwe and Emali from South Africa.
Courteville won the tender, prompting the ICZ to sign an agreement with Courteville Solutions.
However, sources close to proceedings said the deal was hijacked by ICEcash which is related to Emali.
“How Zinara comes into the picture is through the fact that for the electronic cover note system to achieve its biggest objective of stopping fake insurance, enforcement had to be computerised. This would be achieved by having a data sharing agreement between the insurance industry and Zinara. This meant both bodies would be able to access the same database for the purposes of issuing the insurance cover and Zinara issuing road licences. So all Zinara agents would do before issuing a licence would be to go into the system and check if the insurance was valid for the period the motorist wanted to buy the licence for,” a source said.
“The insurance industry would create a portal that would allow Zinara to access insurance information of the vehicle that wanted to purchase road licence and if the insurance was valid for the period the motorist wanted to licence the vehicle for, go ahead and issue it. Because both the insurance and licensing systems are cloud based, the former arrangement was better, given the connectivity issues of Zimbabwe. So whilst the insurance industry was trying to complete the arrangement for the complete process through a data-sharing agreement with Zinara, Serge was busy sabotaging the whole thing through several ways that included writing a letter to Zinara discrediting Courteville.
“Eventually Zinara issued a directive to the insurance industry asking them to all sign with ICEcash for the purposes of issuing electronic cover notes. ICEcash are one and same company with Emali.”
According to the sources, the order instructing companies to engage ICEcash came from Juma, who claimed he was acting on behalf of the Transport ministry.
ICZ chief executive Oliver Guni declined to comment on the matter.
“The ICZ is unable to comment on the matter at this stage as it is still under investigation,” he said.
It also emerged that Courteville Solutions made spirited efforts to save the deal but to no avail.
A letter by Courtville Solutions executive director Oye Ogundele, who is based in Lagos, Nigeria, dated September 26, 2016 and addressed to the then Insurance Council of Zimbabwe (ICZ) chief executive Cletus Chitambira indicates that the company made frantic efforts to have the deal implemented.
“As you are aware, there is an ongoing mediation by the Ministry of Transport and Infrastructural Development on the stalled process of deploying the ICZ/Courtville system for electronic cover note after our appeal letter to the minister following our inability to reach an amicable conclusion at the meeting with Zinara. To this effect, a meeting was held at the ministry on Wednesday, September 7, 2016 and the following resolution was reached at the meeting; that Zinara shall henceforth deal with ICZ directly for anything that has to do with electronic cover notes and that Zinara shall not in any way form or deal directly with individual insurance companies. With immediate effect, Courtville can activate its system to allow members of ICZ to issue electronic cover notes on the platform but without interaction with Zinara’s system until the security clearance for Courtville is done,” the letter, which sources say was ignored, reads.
ICEcash officials could not be reached for comment as their mobile number was unreachable while Juma is currently serving a prison term for a related offence.