The Herald (Harare)

20 June 2014

Zimbabwe: U.S.$3 Million CMED Scam Sucks in Bigwigs

THE US$3 million CMED fuel scandal has sucked in National Oil Infrastructure Company and Petrotrade chief executive officers Messrs Wilfred Matukeni and Tanaka Sikwila amid revelations they lied that First Oil had three million litres of fuel at its Msasa depot when its tanks were dry.

Mr Matukeni and Mr Sikwila sit on the Petrotrade board announced recently by Energy and Power Development Minister Dzikamai Mavhaire.

CMED paid US$3 million to First Oil, but the company -- which had won the tender by virtue of its low price of US$1.21 per litre of diesel -- failed to supply the fuel.

This prejudiced CMED of US$3 million which the parastatal had borrowed from ZB Bank to procure the three million litres of diesel.

CMED had in February 2013 flighted a tender for the supply of fuel and four companies -- First Oil, Comoil, Sakunda Energy and Maps -- participated.

First Oil quoted US$1.21 per litre of diesel, Comoil (US$1.25), Maps (US$1.26) and Sakunda Energy (US$1.28).

The tender was awarded to First Oil.

CMED board chairman Goodwills Masimirembwa yesterday confirmed the development in an interview with The Herald.

"CMED obtained a US$3 million loan from ZB Bank and with that money they placed an order for three million litres of diesel and paid. Prior to paying they entered into a contract with First Oil Company," he said.

First Oil is owned by Mr Alex Mahuni.

"The critical terms of the contract were that the fuel was available in Zimbabwe at Msasa tanks and that it would be released immediately upon receipt of payment," Mr Masimirembwa said.

Reads the contract: "The diesel shall be inland Ex-tank Msasa. Delivery period shall be immediately after payment."

According to the contract, the supplier was to provide proof of the product confirmed by NOIC.

"The NOIC, on March 1, 2013 represented by its CEO W Matukeni confirmed that they were holding three million litres of diesel at Msasa storage tanks on behalf of Petrotrade that had been reserved for First Oil Company. Petrotrade is a sister company of NOIC. Petrotrade wrote a letter to CMED through its acting CEO T Sikwila confirming they had reserved three million litres of diesel for First Fuel Company and that the fuel would be released within 72 hours after receipt of proof of payment," said Mr Masimirembwa.

"CMED did pay. First Oil failed to deliver the diesel and it is clear now that there was no diesel at Msasa. CMED later checked and found that there was no diesel at Msasa. A report was made to serious frauds on June 28, 2013 and the matter is under investigations."

The matter was reported to the police by CMED management against Mr Matukeni and Mr Sikwila.

"As the CMED we are waiting for police to complete their investigations," Mr Masimirembwa said.

He said CMED had also issued summons at the High Court against First Oil Company, Petrotrade and NOIC to recover its US$3 million.

"Our lawyers are handling the civil aspect of the case. They have issued summons against First Oil Company, Petrotrade and NOIC," Mr Masimirembwa said.

No comment could be obtained from the police on progress made in the investigations of the case.

Transport and Infrastructure Development Minister Dr Obert Mpofu last week confirmed that the matter had been reported to the police and vowed to bring those implicated to justice.

"There have been claims that these guys are untouchable, but we are going to touch them. We do not want any bureaucratic approach to this matter because this will tarnish the image of the institution. Even my managers (at CMED) have been accused unnecessarily, but the actual people are there. We want that money and it should be repaid. The people who collected the money from CMED are known and they are around. The matter has been reported to the police. It is not money that was stolen from CMED, but it is money that was collected by characters and businesspeople who are well known. Their businesses and premises of operation are known," said Minister Mpofu.

He has tasked to new CMED board to prioritise investigations into the matter.

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