Zvamaida Murwira Senior Reporter
The Zimbabwe National Road Administration (Zinara) lost over US$40 million in dubious payments approved by former chief executive officer Frank Chitukutuku.
The payments were for substandard work, overpayment for projects without board approval, flouting tender procedures, hand-picking firms, payment for incomplete work and awarding projects to companies linked to a specific individual.
The former chief executive officer, Mr Chitukutuku is alleged to have unilaterally paid contractors without board approval.
Giving oral evidence before the Parliamentary Portfolio Committee on Transport and Infrastructural Development yesterday, Zinara board chairperson Engineer Michael Madanha said he was curious to know where Mr Chitukutuku derived his powers when he unilaterally authorised payments for poorly done work that prejudiced the parastatal of US39 515 627,66 and R31 452 102,53 respectively.
“Zinara is interested to know the power behind these shenanigans committed by the already fired Zinara executive headed by the then CEO, Mr Frank Chitukutuku, who was the accounting officer,” said Eng Madanha.
The Transport and Infrastructural Development committee is chaired by Shamva North MP, Cde Oscar Gorerino (Zanu-PF).
Eng Madanha gave a breakdown of the projects that proved that contractors were either overpaid, paid for incomplete work, sub-standard work and in some instances paid for no work at all.
Said Cde Gorerino: “Was the CEO alone or there was someone behind him? The CEO cannot authorise all these projects without a political officer giving him this courage. Was this guy working on autopilot?”
Eng Madanha responded by saying that the board is supposed to regulate the operations of management.
For a CEO to override the board, said Cde Gorerino, meant a close link with the minister.
“There is no way the board can be skipped in the whole process given these huge amounts,” he said.
He said the Transport Minister at the time was Mr Nicholas Goche.
“If I remember well, that was the time of Minister Goche. But it is up to the accounting officer to come and say who was the power behind all this,” said Eng Madanha.
Some of the projects that were paid for include Badon Enterprises, which was paid US$9 million for two separate projects worth US$5,3 million, which were 30 percent and 80 percent complete in Chegutu.
Eng Madanha said Twalumba Associates had prejudiced Zinara of US$11,8 million through nine different road projects, whose completion ranged from five percent to 45 percent.
Other companies linked to Twalumba included Transter, Bermingpools, Arcttechards, and Notify.
In most instances, said Eng Madanha, an order to local authorities to engage Twalumba came from Mr Chitukutuku.
Efforts to recover the money are underway.
The cases will also be reported to the Zimbabwe Republic Police.
Bitumen World however, which was awarded seven projects, is one the companies that completed their projects properly.
But Eng Madanha said while Bitumen’s work was satisfactorily done and that the company had submitted documents showing that costs had escalated above initially agreed charges, there was no proof of a board resolution approving payments above agreed value of contracts.
Shurugwi North MP, Cde Robson Nyathi (Zanu-PF) said it was important that the committee invite Mr Goche and Mr Chitukutuku to give their evidence in order to have full appreciation of the goings on at Zinara at the time.