LOCAL Government minister July Moyo is subject of a Zimbabwe Anti-Corruption Commission (Zacc) investigation over his role in the procurement of US$9,3 million water pumps without going to tender, a year-long running investigation by the Zimbabwe Independent shows.
The US$9,3 million scandal, which was first exposed by this publication on March 12, 2021, is premised on how Moyo cherry-picked Petrichor Irrigation to supply water pumps without going to tender at a steep cost.
This was in violation of prescribed public procurement legislation.
In terms of the Procurement Act, any contract exceeding US$1 million must go through a public tender process.
Petrichor’s representative, Paul Kruger, prior to being awarded the lucrative tender, was contracted to offer consultancy services around resolving Harare’s perennial water challenges, among other cities dogged by the same problem.
After being paid for consultancy services rendered, through which Kruger allegedly recommended that there was a need to replace water pumps in Harare, he was given the deal to supply the same without going to tender.
This raised grave conflict of interest questions, which now, among other issues, sit at the heart of Zacc’s probe.
Relating to the Zacc probe, documents seen by this publication show that the anti-graft body demanded a raft of documents from the Harare City Council (HCC) linked to the controversial transaction together with an explanation on the exact role the Local Government ministry played in selecting Kruger’s company — Petrichor.
“The commission is investigating allegations of corrupt funding and procurement of services for the rehabilitation of pumps at Morton Jaffray Water Works sometime in 2019.
“Information at hand indicates that the issue was discussed in Cabinet through the ministry of Local Government, Public Works and National Housing and project was funded by Treasury and that City of Harare as the beneficiary of the project was involved in the rehabilitation works,” a letter addressed to City of Harare Town Clerk Mabhena Moyo from Zacc general manager investigations Peter Rwodzi reads.
Zacc spokesperson John Makamure, when quizzed about the investigation being executed by the body said he was preparing for a pressing meeting.
“Kindly call me after 12pm, I am preparing for a virtual meeting,” he said.
Moyo was reportedly out of the country, and he had not responded to questions sent to him at the time of going to print.
Rwodzi’s correspondence to the Town Clerk, dated May 20, requested for an explanation on “the role that was played by the Ministry of Local Government and all correspondences between City of Harare and Ministry of Local Government on the project”.
Other documents requested by Zacc include “details of consultant and contractor for the rehabilitation works and details of consultant and contractor for the rehabilitation works”.
“To assist in the investigations, we therefore request the following documents. The role that was played by City of Harare in the procurement of the services of the consultant and contractor for the rehabilitation of Morton Jaffray pumps including the contract between City of Harare and the contractor.
“Details/records of payment to contractor for the rehabilitation works and delivery notes for replacement pumps and accessories,” wrote Rwodzi.
Questions sent to Local Government deputy minister Marian Chombo were not responded to. She was not picking calls from this publication.
When the Independent broke the story in 2021, Kruger declined to respond to questions posed by this publication which sought clarity relating to the scope of work he did for Harare City Council and how much he was paid.
At that time, Kruger told the Independent: “I have forwarded your message (questions) to the relevant people.” He did not identify the “relevant people.”
Questions sent to him this week seeking answers to the same questions posed to him last year drew blanks.
At the time Kruger’s company was awarded the tender, the Netherlands, through Vitens Evides International (VEI) had also extended financial assistance to the City of Harare for the rehabilitation of water pumps at Morton Jaffray.
This raised questions from key stakeholders, who questioned whether Moyo requested US$9,3 million from the Treasury for the same job that had been freely funded by the Dutch.
On January 27, Norton legislator Themba Mliswa wrote to Dutch ambassador Margret Verwijk casting light on the possible abuse of funds availed for rehabilitating the Morton Jaffray water pumps. Morton Jaffray is in Norton.
“Your Excellency, in my capacity as a national legislator, and my mandated role of legislation, representation and oversight, I hereby lodge an inquiry regarding the Manyame pump station rehabilitation carried out in 2019.
“It appears amiss that the reasons you tendered for the assistance your embassy provided are the same reasons that were proffered by our government. This perplexing duplication raises serious questions,” Mliswa wrote to Verwijk in a letter also furnished to President Emmerson Mnangagwa, Auditor General (AG) Mildred Chiri and Zacc head Loice Matanda-Moyo.
As part of this publication investigation around the US$9 million transaction, Dutch embassy Policy Officer for Press, Public Diplomacy and Culture through email responses, told the Independent that a request had been given to the City of Harare and VEI to set the record straight on the matter.
“Following the allegations on Twitter, we have engaged the City of Harare (CoH) and VEI. CoH and VEI are expected to issue a clarifying statement soon.
“In Zimbabwe, VEI are working directly with Harare and Bulawayo municipalities on a long-term basis to improve water supply,” wrote Davies in an email to the Independent in February.
In yet another set of City of Harare financial documents seen by this publication, Petrichor has also been contracted to supply pumps to Letombo Pump station at a project cost of US$4 332 289,48.
It remains unclear whether the contract was awarded in line with public procurement regulations.