Harare – The arrest of senior Zimbabwe Electricity Supply Authority ( Zesa) Holdings executives on corruption charges last week has opened a pandora box amid reports of massive rot running into millions of dollars, gross abuse of office and failure to follow corporate governance procedure in the issuing of tenders, among other fraudulent procurement deals.
This comes at a time government has instituted a forensic audit on all Zesa subsidiaries leading to 15 senior managers having been sent on forced leave to pave way for the audit.
Last week Zesa Group Chief executive officer Josh Chifamba and two other senior managers were charged with criminal abuse of office relating to $35 million worth of business deals with Indian company, PME.
Documents seen by the Mail and Telegraph show that the forensic audit seeks, among many other issues, information on how tenders were issued, board minutes, procurement documentation, fraud incidents reports as well as all procurement documentation for the Wicknell Chivhayo’s Gwanda solar project.
Documents also show that the auditors also asked for finance reports of the power utility company for the past three years from 2015 to 2018.
In addition the auditors want the Zesa budgets, payment vouchers, disposal lists, and all relevant Afrexim bank facilities documentation for all financial loans which were issued for the period under review.
An internal report seen by this paper also reveals that Zesa executives made unilateral decisions and surpassed the agreed donations amount per year.
In 2015 Zesa donated Close to $1,2 million to various organisations as well as to politicians instead of the approved $300 000.
The power utility is also accused of sidelining the tender board in issuing of tenders. The Parastatal has had a torrid history of corruption and mismanagement at its highest level.
Most recently, senior executive members of the ZESA Holdings, including the CEO were charged with criminal abuse of office relating to $35 million worth of business deals with Indian company, PME.
Documents show that PME was issued the contract without going to tender, without scope of works, no technical specifications and that the prices escalated without the Reserve Bank of Zimbabwe approval.
Zesa spokesperson Fullard Gwasira said he could not comment on issues under investigations.
“The issue is under investigation and we wait for the conclusion of that process,” Gwasira said.
The country’s controversial power generation projects have been inflated by more than US$500 million, raising suspicion that Zesa managers and senior government officials could have corruptly benefitted through price escalations.
Zesa is rocked by massive tender scandals, in which government has entrusted the country’s critical multi-billion-dollar energy projects to dodgy business people who have criminal records, ranging from fraud to drug trafficking. Zimbabwe is planning to construct three solar plants, each generating 100 megawatts.
The initial cost, as of 2014, was US$183 million for each of the projects, bringing the total cost to US$549 million.
Zesa sources said the forensic audit is likely to expose massive rot that has bled the power utility company which is reeling under a US$ 1 billion debt and owes its regional power suppliers close to $100 million.