Daggers are out for outspoken ZESA executive chairperson Sydney Gata, who this week laid bare the rot in Zimbabwe’s tendering and procurement processes.
He could soon find himself out of the job for it.
Gata told Parliament on Monday that the controversial $250 million Dema diesel Power plant issued to Kuda Tagwirei’s Sakunda Holdings in 2016 was not above board and that the office of the then late former president Robert Mugabe with the assistance of top official still in power, abated corruption in the tendering process.
Insiders told Zim Morning Post that Gata had “ruffled feathers” by putting the blame on the presidium and not on the then State Procurement Board.
“He has not only exposed corrupt activities by the previous regime but also fired shots at the current regime,” said a top Government insider.
“Tagwirei is still a key player in the economic turn around of the second republic and dragging the presidium into the issues at ZESA shows the man (Gata) is trying to rekindle the fire around Sakunda,” said a top government official.
“What is his motive? Was there no other way to respond given that the opposition is blaming Tagwirei for capturing the state. If anything, what Gata did was to lay bare the corruption that has engulfed government tendering processes as well as to confirm that State capture is real.”
Gata told Parliament that the plant ran only between July 2016 and March 2017, before Sakunda shut it down citing diesel shortages.
Sakunda has approached ZESA with a proposal to buy the plant, supplied by Sakunda contractor Aggreko. The power utility rejected this, Gata said.
“We declined to purchase the power station for US$66 million,” Gata told Parliament.
“I had an opportunity to visit the power plant, and to inspect the engineering layout, the designs and facilities at the power station. I’m very surprised that this country could actually license an asset like that. I saw something that, as an engineer, is a capital offence.”
“It was a potential calamity for the communities around there. I did not see fire-fighting equipment, I did not see emergency equipment. I didn’t see environmental mitigation measures,” Gata added.
Tagwirei partnered Mugabe’s son in law Simba Chikoore and controversially grabbed the power generation contract that was initially awarded to an American company APR.
Sakunda roped in another American company, Aggreko, which had lost in the tendering process.
Giving oral evidence to the Public Accounts Portfolio Committee, Gata said Sakunda did not follow due process when it was awarded the contract and that the office of the president had undue influence in the awarding of contracts.
At the material time, Mugabe’s office did not only block the parliamentary portfolio committee from investigating the deal but went on to seize control of the plant from the Energy and Power Development ministry in a move that was aimed at ring-fencing and protecting political cronies behind the deal.
“Sakunda were engaged for this project, even though they had not actually tendered in the initial floating of the tender. Their engagement was through a directive from the Ministry of Energy. The second note is that the engineers’ and lawyers’ reports had an adverse opinion with regards to the bankability of this project,” Gata said.
“Our nation will need one day to revisit the subject of ministerial directives to public enterprises,” Gata said.
When “we consider the number of white elephant projects” and others that violate the law, “it is this issue of directives that needs to be qualified soon,” Gata tsaid.
Gata’s comments have, however, raised the ire of those in the corridors of power, especially the securocrats, who feel that “the cat has been let out of the bag at a time when Tagwirei is being accused of capturing the second republic.”