Arrested ZESA bosses face Samuel Undenge fate

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By Mary Taruvinga

THE three ZESA executives, who were arrested Wednesday on corruption charges, could suffer the fate of former Energy Minister Samuel Undenge who was July this year jailed for two and a half years for an almost similar offence.

The three, Joshua Chifamba (59), Julian Masanga Chinembiri (53) and Thokozani Dhliwayo (51), are accused of handpicking a company owned by ZBC broadcaster, Oscar Pambuka and former Zanu PF MP, Psychology Maziwisa to offer public relations services to the power utility without going to tender.

Undenge was convicted and jailed over the same matter.

At least 13 witnesses from the parastatal are expected to testify against the trio who are jointly facing two counts criminal abuse of office.

Chifamba and his accomplices were released on $3 000 bail with some stringent reporting conditions.

Prosecuting, Michael Reza said sometime in March 2012, Zimbabwe Electricity Transmission and Distribution Company (ZETDC) Zesa Enterprises (Zent) entered a two year business transaction with PME Power Solutions, an Indian based company for design, equipment supply, engineering and supervision for the commissioning of substations at Chiwaridzo in Bindura, Senga in Gweru, Aerodrome and Cowdray Park in Bulawayo without going to tender.

The agreement specified the value of the projects as $35 million but there was no provision for dates of delivery of the equipment.

Court heard that Article 12 of the agreement defined duration of the contract as two years.

On August 18, 2012 Chifamba and his subordinates connived and caused the transfer of an advance payment of $35 million from Afrexim bank into PME China Trust Commercial Bank in New Delhi for the project.

It was alleged that the payment was made without a performance guarantee and exposed the State to loss of $35 million.

After the payment had been made, Chinembiri barred the Engineering department from proceeding to PME to conduct a Factory Assessment test before delivery of the consignment.

ZETDC was supposed to verify the quality of the equipment before its dispatch from India for quality assurance.

By February 6, 2016 PME had only supplied materials worth $16 341 428, 21 causing ZETDC a loss of the difference of $11 836 146, 80.

Instead of following up on the delivery, on November 21, 2017, Chifamba and his accomplices, an Executive Management Board of Directors meeting which resolved to set off $7 856 047 purportedly against an outstanding debt owed to PME and Zent.

The court heard that since confirmation of the agreement, only Aerodrome and Senga projects were completed while Chiwaridzo and Cowdray Park remain incomplete.

On the second count, Chifamba and his accomplices are alleged to have participated in the selection of Fruitful Communications owned by Pambuka and Maziwisa to provide media services to ZETDC without following tender procedures.

The court heard that in November 2014 Fruitful Communications was paid $3 750 and a further $20 000 between April and June 2015.

It was alleged that Undenge wrote a letter directing Chinembiri to engage the media consultancy firm only to discover that ZETDC had already taken Fruitful Communications on board.

According to State papers, Chifamba was aware of irregular appointment by his subsidiary entities ZETDC and Zimbabwe Power Company.

When the accused persons learnt that Undenge had been arrested over the charges, they allegedly made efforts to conceal evidence and avoid prosecution.

On both counts, the State alleges that the accused persons conduct prejudiced ZETDC $11 836 146, 80.