4 council officials nabbed over US$9m tender scandal

Source: The Herald – Breaking news.

4 council officials nabbed over US$9m tender scandal 
The arrested council officials are Never Murerwa (62) and Jabulani Mukomazi (44), who work in the city’s Procurement Management Unit as manager supply chain and principal buyer, respectively.

Trust Freddy 

Herald Correspondent

The Zimbabwe Anti-Corruption Commission (ZACC) has arrested four Harare City Council officials for allegedly awarding a street lights tender worth over US$9,2 million to Juluka Enndo Joint Venture, a company owned by businessman Moses Mpofu, without following proper procedures. 

Mpofu, who is currently in remand prison on fraud charges involving US$87 million under the Presidential Goat Scheme, holds a significant stake in the company and was reportedly awarded the tender despite failing to meet the requirements.

The arrested council officials are Never Murerwa (62) and Jabulani Mukomazi (44), who work in the city’s Procurement Management Unit as manager supply chain and principal buyer, respectively.

The others are principal accountant Denford Zhungu (69) and engineering technician Tawanda Mutenhabundo (29).  

According to ZACC, the charges against the four arose during the time they served on the tender evaluation committee that reviewed tender number COH/DOW/S.5/2024 for the streetlight refurbishment project on various Harare roads.

The accused reportedly disregarded the competitive bidding process and awarded the tender to a company with a history of failing to deliver on previous contracts.

It is alleged that sometime in January this year, the City of Harare embarked on a rehabilitation of street lights along Harare roads in preparation for the SADC Summit to be held next month in the capital city. 

On January 29, the Procurement Regulatory Authority of Zimbabwe (PRAZ) granted a few specific exemptions to facilitate the expeditious completion of projects in time for the SADC Summit. 

Consequently, on March 15, an invitation to tender was published in the Government Gazette and it was listed on the Procurement Regulatory Authority portal on March 19. 

Eleven companies namely, Donax Enterprises (Pvt) Ltd, Ship Tracks (Pvt) Ltd, Furbank Trading (Pvt) Ltd, Radiation Incorporation (Pvt) Ltd, Slowgrad Engineering (Pvt) Ltd, Syvern Investments (Pvt) Ltd, Onel Electrical Engineers (Pvt) Ltd, Boltgas International (Pvt) Ltd, Stoyna Computers (Pvt) Ltd, Juluka Ennd Joint Venture (Pvt) Ltd and Exodus & Company (Pvt) Ltd responded to the tender invitation.

It is alleged that on March 28, Murerwa, as the manager supply chain, appointed the Tender Opening Committee.

It emerged that on April 19, an evaluation committee, which included Mukomazi, Zhungu and Mutenhabundo, sat and awarded Syvern Investments, Exodus and Company, Ship Tracks and Onel Engineering the tender to rehabilitate eight of the 10 lots of street lights. Due to lot limitation no company was awarded more than two lots. 

According to investigations, Juluka Enndo Joint Venture was disqualified after failing to meet the tender requirements.

However, the four accused, working in connivance, proceeded to unprocedurally award the tender of the remaining lots to Juluka Enndo Joint Venture, disregarding the dictates of the general procurement provisions, which require the procurement to be done through a competitive bidding process. 

It is further alleged that the accused disregarded their earlier decision to disqualify Juluka Enndo Joint Venture for having failed to meet the bid requirements.

Investigations further revealed that the accused awarded the tender to Juluka Enndo Joint venture, whose owners also run Synlak (Pvt) Ltd, a company which had in 2019 been awarded a tender for a biogas digester and failed to deliver. 

According to ZACC, this was contrary to the standard bidding document condition which provided that bidders, who have bad records in execution of City of Harare works, were not eligible.

However, the four accused officials allegedly colluded to unprocedurally award the tender to the company, potentially costing the City of Harare US$9 244 328,71.

By so acting, according to ZACC, the accused knowingly acted contrary to and inconsistent with their duties as public officers, with the intention of extending an undue favour to Juluka Enndo Joint Venture (Pvt) Ltd. 

ZACC spokesperson, Commissioner Thandiwe Mlobane yesterday confirmed the arrest of the four officials.

“I confirm the arrest of City of Harare Officials in connection with allegations of abuse of duty as public officials,” she said.

The four were arrested on Tuesday and are expected to appear at Harare Magistrate on the today for initial remand placement.