By Anna Chibamu
ZIMBABWE Electricity Supply Authority (ZESA) allegedly awarded a US$250 million tender to Sakunda Holdings for the installation of the 200MW Dema Diesel Power Plant in violation of the country’s procurement procedures.
This came out during a Public Accounts Parliamentary Portfolio committee oral evidence hearing from ZESA officials on Monday.
The deal had been agreed upon without following due tender procedures, according to the Auditor General’s report.
Committee chair, Tendai Biti described the deal as “atrocious” and demanded answers to several questions relating to the opaque deal.
“Who corruptly awarded Sakunda the US$250 million Dema Power Plant deal and why? How did ZESA get a US$35 million loan from Afreximbank without Parliamentary approval,” asked Biti.
Sakunda Holdings is owned by prominent but controversial businessman Kudakwashe Tagwirei, a close ally to President Emmerson Mnangagwa.
During the committee meeting, Paurina Mupariwa also queried how ZESA handled the deal.
“According to the Auditor General, the Dema Diesel Power Plant project was a national project hence the Energy ministry gave ZESA the authority to procure through special formal tender process.
“The State Procurement Board was sidelined from procurement processes violating the Public Finance Management Act,” said Mupariwa.
The project turned out to be extremely expensive as indicated in the AG’s report which says other cheap projects could have been considered.
These are the Mozambique one which was going for five cents per kilowatt per hour.
The Dema project gobbled 30 cents per Kilowatt per hour.
ZESA executive chairman Sydney Gata admitted to the committee the deal was “bad” and requested to respond in writing to the questions posed by the MPs.
“We were given a list of projects and advised on which project to look into.
“The board recognised the project and Dema was one of them. At the very first board meeting the Dema project was cancelled, and it was an attempt that did not succeed,” said Gata.
He added, “We have noted the questions down and we shall respond in writing, the managers who were supposed to respond to those questions are not here, but we can research the facts and write to this honourable committee.”
Biti told Gata the committee was disappointed by the board chair’s failure to give “real” answers over the power deal.
“I’m disappointed at the management of Zesa for failing to appear before this committee on a matter which they knew needed answers on specific matters especially the matter of the 2019 forensic audit report,” said the Harare lawmaker.
“We express disappointment that ZESA did not come armed with the relevant personnel that was present at that time to help in answering the committee’s specific questions.
“Our disappointment is exacerbated by the fact that you brought a large team to the committee and that gave us hope that we have an arsenal, but you failed to give us answers. So, we hope that this won’t happen in the future.”
Biti adjourned the meeting to next week Monday.
Sakunda Holdings, during a tour of the plant in 2019, told the committee it was being owed money for the project by government.