DIDG, NRZ deal shrouded in mystery

TRANSPORT minister Joe Biggie Matiza is under fire for scrapping a less costly deal without consulting the office of the president and cabinet despite the deal having through the tender board, Zim Morning Post has learnt.

This comes as the National Railways of Zimbabwe (NRZ) has engaged a Russian company, Uniwagon, for the supply of wagons and locomotives, a deal that is likely to cost more than the Diaspora Infrastructure Development Group (DIDG) contract.

Last week government announced that it was cancelling the DIDG deal, a move that is likely to be challenged if “negotiations fail.”

DIDG insiders said the company is still exploring all available options to bring the deal back on the rail.

We are happy that we are getting audience from government over the deal,” said the source.

“We have already secured funding and soon we will be on the ground.”

Insiders said Matiza is said to have tried to convince the president to consent to a more expensive Uniwagon deal, having scrapped a US$400 million deal with DIDG.

The Uniwagon deal is now expected to cost government an extra US$600 million.

This has reportedly ruffled Mnangagwa.

“The (Uniwagon) deal is going to bring in 5 000 wagons at US$100 000 each and 67 locomotives at US$3 million each, with the total investment capping US$701 million,” a source within NRZ said.

The total cost of the Uniwagon deal, inclusive of the US$300 million for track rehabilitation, will now bring the government bill to a whooping US$1 billion.

The Uniwagon-NRZ deal is expected take off in January 2020, with delivery of the first 100 prototype wagons, despite DIDG having put everything in place and was rearing to go.

DIDG is reportedly considering a lawsuit against the government for loss of contract, something which would have been avoided if Matiza had played by the book.