The Zimbabwe National Road Administration (ZINARA) dished out a whopping US$71 million between 2011 and 2016 to 17 private companies that largely failed to deliver, The Herald can reveal.
Further, The Herald also established that some of the contracts which were awarded under the "special projects" arrangement were awarded without going to tender.
In clear disregard of good corporate governance, some contractors were overpaid and in other cases payments were made for incomplete jobs and in the absence of payment certificates as evidence of the work done.
It also emerged that Zinara awarded these so-called special projects to the same individuals using different company names, for instance in the case of Twalumba Civil Engineering.
The company got other contracts under special projects using other names such as Notify Enterprises and Bermipools.
These malpractices, among other wrongdoings are contained in an audit report by Grant Thornton which had been kept under wraps since the conclusion of the audit at Zinara.
The report highlighted that some senior managers at Zinara are under-qualified for the positions they are holding and most of the contracts that bled the road authority were hammered under their watch.
For instance, director of human resources and operations Mr Precious Murove only had a Diploma in Theology at the time he assumed his current executive position.
"During period 2011 and 2016, Zinara disbursed US$71 487 896,21 and ZAR31 452 102,53 towards special projects carried out by 17 contractors," read part of the summary report by Grant Thornton.
Matters arising from a review of the special projects by Grant Thornton showed that: "No tendering procedures were done in awarding most of the contracts. The contracting process was led by Zinara and letters would sometimes be sent to road authorities with an instruction on the specific contractors to consider for the specific execution of the special projects.
"Formal tendering procedures were not followed in respect of contracts of more than US$1 million, resulting in contravention of the requirements of the State Procurement Board (now Procurement Regulatory Authority of Zimbabwe)."
Some of the contracts did not specify the names of the road to be rehabilitated, reads the audit report.
"Most of the contracts did not comply with the Zimbabwe General Conditions of Contracts as they did not specify, among others, performance security and timelines for commencement and completion of road works," it read.
"Most of the road works were not completed (and) in certain instances contractors would be appointed without the knowledge of the road authority. In such circumstances, the chief executive of the road authority would only know of the contract on being approached by the appointed contractor to sign the contract and enable road works to commence.
"There was common directorship in some contractors, namely Twalumba Civil Engineering that was also known as Notify Enterprises and Bermipools. The road works in some instances were incomplete, however, payments would have been to the contractor by Zinara on behalf the RDC."
The audit report came up with a number of recommendations which are yet to be implemented.