Committee to probe questionable Zinara deals

Committee to probe questionable Zinara deals

Source: Committee to probe questionable Zinara deals | The Herald October 7, 2017

Nyemudzai Kakore Herald Correspondent
Government has constituted an independent committee to look into the operations of the Zimbabwe National Road Administration (Zinara) after a forensic audit by an international audit firm Grant Thornton unearthed a number of questionable business transactions prejudicial to the State. The committee is expected to complete and submit its recommendations in two months.

One of the questionable transactions exposed by the audit was the Plumtree-Bulawayo-Harare-Mutare project implemented by Group Five of South Africa at a cost of $206 million. The project was bankrolled by the Development Bank of Southern Africa (DBSA). Addressing journalists in Harare yesterday, Transport and Infrastructural Development Minister Dr Joram Gumbo said some of the contractual obligations tied to the project were not divulged to Government when the agreement was signed.

“The forensic audit report revealed gross mismanagement of financial resources through contractual obligations which were undertaken by Zinara, which are prejudicial to the organisation and Government, overpayment of contractors, payments for substandard work undertaken by contractors and in some instances work which was not even done, as well as contractual terms and conditions that result in Government projects being overpaid at the end of the tenure of concession periods,” he said.

“In order to bring closure to the forensic audit findings, I have now instituted an independent committee of experts to look into the operations of the said companies in relation to their work with Zinara. The committee members have been drawn from the following disciplines: legal, economics, project risk management, accounts, engineering and finance and quantity surveying.”

The audit noted that Zinara had paid out $71 million and R31 million between 2011 and 2016 under Special Projects without following proper procurement procedures. It was also discovered that all Univern (Southern Region Trading Company-SRTC) contracts entered into with Zinara had an unquantifiable contract sum. Minister Gumbo said all employees implicated in the scam will be punished accordingly. He said from the recommendations of the committee, sanity and accountability would be restored at Zinara.

“If there is need for punishment, let those who are guilty be punished As far as I am concerned, no one is going to run away, let the process take its course and let the guilty be found,” said Minister Gumbo.

“We should not accuse them before there are guilty. That is why I am calling for an investigation from the committee. As of now, I do not know of anyone who is implicated. It is from these investigations that will be carried out that I will be able to find out who did what and I might be even talking of some employees who are no longer at Zinara. I am not that type of a person who will call you guilty until that is proven.”

Government ordered the audit in 2016 after it was inundated with complaints related to underfunding of road authorities, continued deterioration of the national road network and complaints about sub-standard work being undertaken by road construction contractors engaged by Zinara.