10 December 2012

Zimbabwe: SPB, ZETDC Under Probe

THE Zimbabwe Anti Corruption Commission is investigating the State Procurement Board and the Zimbabwe Electricity Transmission and Distribution Company (ZETDC) over the award of tenders to supply pre-paid meters.

The two are suspected of having connived to award the tenders to a South African company Nyamezela Pvt Ltd despite cancelling earlier submissions, citing irregularities.

ZTE Corporation, a Chinese company, and Nyamezela of South Africa were expected to deliver a combined 12 000 pre-paid meters early this year but more than 32 000 meters have since been installed in the two major cities since the project started in August this year.

ZACC chairperson Mr Denford Chirindo could not be reached for comment. But sources confirmed the SPB and ZETDC were under investigations.

"Our people are investigating the SPB and ZETDC to understand how tenders are being awarded," said a source.

"We have been receiving a lot of complaints over the awarding of tenders to do with Zesa. For instance the SPB cancelled a tender and then clandestinely awarded it to the same company they had earlier claimed had erroneously been awarded.

"After an outcry from other bidders they claimed to have cancelled the tender but the same company is the one that is installing meters in Harare."

He said they had approached several concerned parties in the matter so they would have an appreciation of what happened.

The source confirmed that investigations were continuing and that they would soon ask police to make arrests.

However, ZETDC managing director Mr Julian Chinembiri yesterday expressed ignorance over the probe.

He said tenders for Harare and Bulawayo were yet to be flighted.

"We are getting the meters from the companies and we decided to try them in Harare because it is nearer," he said.

"The tenders (for Harare and Bulawayo) were not re-opened. This is just a trial run. We have an approval from the State Procurement Board to get the meters from the four suppliers," said Mr Chinembiri.

ZETDC recently gave two firms contracted to supply pre-paid meters including Nyamezela Pvt Ltd, a 14-day ultimatum to deliver or lose the deal after they failed to deliver the meters by the stipulated time.

The meters were supposed to be used for Zesa's pilot project on the installation of pre-paid meters.

Papers seen by The Herald indicate that the SPB cancelled tenders for the installation of prepaid meters for Harare and Bulawayo in March this year.

A letter written by SPB principal officer Mr Cledwyn Nyanhete on March 12, 2012 indicated that the tender awarded to Nyamezela Pvt Ltd had been cancelled saying the secretariat had made an error.

This followed an Administrative Court application by BT Critical Power seeking to set aside the tender award. The local power company queried how the South African firm had been awarded tenders despite breaching tender regulations.

The SPB had awarded Nyamezela Pvt Ltd tenders for the supply of prepaid meters for five ZETDC regions despite tender instructions that no bidder was to tender for more than three regions.

However, the SPB accused the secretariat of making errors in transmitting its resolutions.

"Accordingly, the board, through PBR 1897C of February 2, 2012, resolved that the transmission error be and is hereby corrected as follows;

"That Lots A2 and C2 for Item 2 (supply of Single Phase Split Prepayment BS-Type Static Energy Meters) earlier awarded to Nyamezela Consultancy Engineering CC in error, be and are hereby cancelled due to failure by all bidders to meet tender specifications," wrote Mr Nyanhete.

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