The exposé on the $600 million shady energy tenders awarded to “dodgy characters” and “dubious tenderprenuers” by Zesa, during former Energy minister Dzikamai Mavhaire’s tenure, has rekindled an old rivalry between the eccentric politician and Daniel Shumba, who chairs the Parliamentary Portfolio Committee on Energy and Mines that is probing the scam.
By Tatenda Chitagu
Mavhaire stands accused of flouting Zesa tender rules where in three instances he allegedly awarded the multi-million-dollar power plant construction contracts without following laid-down procedures.
This came out when Zimbabwe Electricity Transmission and Distribution Company (ZETDC) management and members of the State Procurement Board (SPB) recently appeared before the Shumba-led committee to give oral evidence.
In one of the irregularities, Mavhaire and permanent secretary Patson Mbiriri allegedly ordered that Powertel be awarded the tender for ZETDC third party vending for pre-paid electricity, yet the company had not gone through the tender processes and had no capacity to run the project.
After being awarded the electricity token contract, Powertel sub-contracted E-Solutions through an allegedly illegal tender to supply ICT infrastructure for electricity tokens and were fined $900 for the “misdeed”.
The ex-minister’s directive is said to have disadvantaged 38 other bidders, including a company called Aura, which then blew the whistle to Parliament, asking the legislature to investigate the scam.
The other irregularity involved the $9,8 million tender to supply electricity transformers to Mutare Power Peaking Plant, which had initially been awarded to Pito Investments, but was later cancelled after a directive from the Energy ministry that it had to be awarded to Helcraw and a Zesa subsidiary company, Zent.
ZETDC managing director Julian Chinembiri, his lawyer Saidi Sankulu and procurement administrator Isaac Chikobvu conceded to the irregularities, saying they had no choice but to follow government directives.
That there is no love lost between Shumba and Mavhaire — who has since joined former vice-president Joice Mujuru’s People First party after being fired from both Zanu PF and government — is well-documented as they clashed along factional politics in Masvingo.
Shumba, a former Masvingo provincial chair, was aligned to the Vice-President Emmerson Mnangagwa-led faction, while Mavhaire was then linked to the Mujuru faction.
Shumba and Mavhaire, both from Masvingo, are sworn enemies who did not see eye-to-eye.
They once clashed over candidature for Masvingo urban in 2005.
Mavhaire wanted the seat, as did Shumba, who was later suspended in 2006 for participating in the infamous Tsholotsho declaration — a meeting organised by Mnangagwa loyalists to drum up support for him ahead of Mujuru, but seen as a palace coup against Mugabe.
An interim committee then came in.
After failing to stand when he was allegedly blocked by Mavhaire — then the most senior member in Zanu PF in the province — Shumba sponsored Shylet Uyoyo to stand in Masvingo Urban-then Central but she was defeated by the MDC-T’s Tongai Matutu.
Sources said the tender scam probe, though worthwhile, had the hallmarks of a personal war.
“He is doing his job — it’s a public good, and a service to taxpayers. That is the job of parliamentarians and portfolio committees,” said a source privy to the years’ old grudge.
“However, if you want to take it from another angle, Shumba found the appropriate time to strike back at Mavhaire using his position as the chair of the parliamentary portfolio committee on mines.
“This tender scam is not the only corrupt one in Zanu PF. I am not saying people who are corrupt should not be brought to book and be held to account, but just look at the many scandals to hit Zanu PF and tell me which ones were probed and why, while others were thrown under the carpet.
“Just look at the deafening silence on the missing $15 billion from diamond proceeds,”
But both Shumba and Mavhaire dismissed allegations that they were fighting.
In a terse message to this reporter, Mavhaire said; “ [That is] Rubbish…let him do his work”.
Shumba said he never clashed with Mavhaire, but was just opposed to “factional politics”.
“I did not clash with Mavhaire, but I was just opposed to factional politics,” he said.
He refuted claims that he was trying to pounce back on Mavhaire, insisting he does not hold a grudge against him.
“We are just doing parliamentary oversight activities. That is why we were elected into Parliament. We are doing this in a professional, intelligent and non-partisan manner,” Shumba said.
Observers say the probe has had a boomerang effect on Shumba and Zanu PF as it exposed the party for corruptly awarding three quarters of the tenders to convicted criminal Wicknell Chivayo and his handler, Ibrahim Yusuf’s Intratreck Company.
Yusuf, according to The Source, has a history dented with drug trafficking in Zambia and allegedly supplied unapproved circumcision devices in South Africa.
Intratrek is said to have no track record of dealing in energy infrastructure it subcontracts to other contractors.