Audit exposes Gweru city fathers

Source: Audit exposes Gweru city fathers | The Financial Gazette July 2, 2016

GWERU — A storm is brewing in the Midlands provincial capital where an internal audit unearthed corporate governance violations in the awarding of a water audit tender of US$222 000 to Zimit, an engineering company based in Harare.
Information gathered by the Financial Gazette indicates that the adjudication process was fraught with irregularities which led to Zimit being awarded the tender, notwithstanding the fact that it had the highest bid in terms of cost as well as the least experience in the field.
Other companies that took part in the tendering process included Contech Contractors and the Institute of Water and Sanitation Development (IWSD).
The latter, a non-governmental organisation, has over 15 years of experience.
IWSD had offered to conduct the water audit for US$7 478,78. Regardless, its bid was thrown out on the basis that its scope of work was “very shallow” and that its manpower had no requisite skills and qualifications.
It is now emerging through the internal audit that some of the documents submitted by the institute were removed during the adjudication process.
The audit report noted: “Adjudication report has some errors noted — For the Institute of Water and Sanitation Development, it is indicated no registration documents submitted, but these are included in the tender documents (while) manpower for the Institute of Water and Sanitation (it was) written no skills on adjudication report yet in their submitted bids tender document, the lead consultant has a Master of Science in Integrated Water Resources Management with over 15 years experience and the assistant consultant has a MSc in Strategic Planning and Management and 10 years as a water technician.
“On experience, report statesirrelevant experience yet the Institute of Water and Sanitation has so many water-related projects done for various municipalities as stated in their tender document (and) methodology and scope of work for the Institute of Water and Sanitation and Contech Contractors is stated as ‘stated but shallow’ whereas in the advert, there is no such requirements under conditions.”
According to the report, Zimit is an ICT company and not an equipment company as highlighted in their tender document, yet council wanted a services consultancy firm.
Zimit had also billed in their tender document a Geographical Information Systems (GIS) at a cost of US$74 800 yet it went on to use equipment provided by GIZ.
“This GIS is a necessary component of water audit but was not mentioned anywhere in the tender advert. The GIS equipment is being provided by GIZ, all that is needed is to input information into the system yet this GIS office is not yet functional and GIZ insisted that all this will belong to GCC (Gweru City Council). According to the GIZ representative, Mr Boris, what is only needed is to have one person work in the office so that relevant information can be fed into the system since everything that is needed is already provided for in the GIS office,” the internal audit report said.
The water audit tender is proving to be a thorn in the backsides of city fathers in Gweru.
Early this year, it brewed another storm after it emerged that the audit had not been budgeted for.
First to raise the red flag was Mkoba legislator, Amos Chibaya, who took the issue to Parliament.
Chibaya asked Local Government Minister, Saviour Kasukuwere, to explain the relationship between a commissioner running the affairs of Gweru, Mark Choga, and an engineer, Vavarirai Choga, who is a non-executive director of Zimit.
The pair are brothers and there are fears that Choga could have used his position as commissioner to influence the adjudication process to favour his brother.
Commissioner Choga has, however, denied any involvement in the selection of Zimit, saying he does not sit in the procurement committee.
“I don’t sit in the procurement committee, so allow me to refer you to (Edgar) Mwedzi (acting town clerk),” he said.
The acting town clerk had not responded to messages sent to him by the Financial Gazette at the time of going to print.
According to the internal audit report leaked to the Financial Gazette, council advertised the tender for just 16 days, having placed the advert on December 24, 2015 before closing the bids on January 8, 2016.
This was in violation of the State Procurement Board requirement which states that tender invitations are returnable for 30 days (procurement regulations section 9:1).