TINASHE KAIRIZA LOCAL Government and Public Works minister July Moyo allegedly directed the Victoria Falls City Council to disregard a US$1,5 million tender initially awarded to a local water pumps supplier and gave the same deal to Petrichor Irrigation for US$3,5 million outside public procurement regulations, the Zimbabwe Independent can reveal.
Moyo, as reported by this publication last week, is under investigation by the Zimbabwe Anti-Corruption Commission (Zacc) over his role in the procurement of US$9,3 million water pumps for the City of Harare from Petrichor without going to tender in 2019.
Petrichor’s representative, Paul Kruger, prior to being cherry-picked by Moyo to supply Harare with pumps valued at US$9,3 million, had been engaged by the minister to provide consultancy services aimed at addressing the capital’s perennial water challenges.
After being paid for his consultancy services, through which Kruger recommended the City of Harare Council to buy water pumps, he was given the deal to supply the same, raising conflict of interest questions.
In the case of Victoria Falls, documents seen by this publication and accounts by confidential sources show that the city authorities, through a public tender, had selected Cascade Consulting Engineers to resolve the acute water challenges.
Subsequently, Cascade Consulting did a feasibility study whose recommendations included coming up with engineering designs, constructing a pump house, and expanding and lining the river channel.
For these services, the firm was paid ZW$12 million (about US$40 000), deposited into its Nedbank account last month, according to documents in our possession.
Cascade Consulting then charged US$1,5 million to supply and install water pumps.
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However, sources told the Independent that last year, Moyo, while in Victoria Falls, advised council authorities to “disregard” Cascade Consulting’s recommendations and work with Kruger, whose firm Petrichor recommended the need to procure water pumps at a cost of US$3,5 million.
This translates to a price variation of US$2 million between what Cascade Consulting and Kruger charged.
An invoice by Petrichor, also known as Agrico, seen by this publication last week shows that the cost of the work to be done by the company could potentially rise to US$3,8 million.
The invoice, titled: “Proposal for rehabilitation of Victoria Falls Town Water Supply”, was generated on December 13, 2021.
“Paul Kruger was introduced to Victoria Falls as a Ministry of Local Government and Public Works consultant by Minister Moyo last year to look and assist with water solutions. While the city had already committed and paid for feasibility studies and the engineering designs, the minister advised disregarding all the work done and working with Kruger,” a source close to the water procurement transaction told the Independent.
“The solutions proffered by Kruger was to purchase and install water pumps at a cost of US$3,5 million against US$1,5 million that was projected by Cascade Consulting whose cost would cover construction of pump house, expanding and lining the channel.”
The City of Victoria Falls, sources added, “was not involved in hiring Kruger as a consultant and pumps supplier”.
Authorities were also opposed to Kruger’s contract terms and recommendations for reasons that “they did not offer a holistic solution to address the challenge”.
Another source, who spoke on condition of anonymity, said: “Water problems must be addressed in a holistic manner, from the abstraction point to the waterworks and subsequently to distribution.
“Kruger’s recommendations did not cover that. He merely recommended the need to buy new water pumps which he supplied,”
As documents show, under delivery timelines, Kruger’s firm intended to complete the project by June 2022.
Victoria Falls Town Clerk Ronnie Dube declined to comment.
However, in a letter dated February 18, 2022, Dube wrote to Local Government ministry director Fungai Mbetsa requesting Treasury to pay Kruger’s company for the rehabilitation of Victoria Falls water infrastructure, in line with the invoices submitted.
“We are requesting that the Ministry of Finance and Economic Development pay directly to the suppliers (Agrico/Petrichor) as per the attached invoices.
“The payment will enable the contractor to carry out the works within the stipulated time frame,” it reads.
Kruger did not respond to questions.
In 2021, when Kruger was questioned on how he was selected to provide consultancy services and water pumps to Harare, he referred this publication to the “relevant officials”.
According to a set of City of Harare financial documents seen by this publication, Petrichor has also been contracted to supply pumps at 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.
In terms of the Procurement Act, any contract exceeding US$1 million must go through a public tender process.