ZESA Audit: Billions lost to dubious company hired to dig trenches

Cash- strapped and debt ridden Zimbabwe Electricity Supply Authority (ZESA) lost billions of dollars  to  a dubious company that was handpicked  to dig up trenches countrywide over a period of more than a decade, the Zim Morning Post can reveal.

The company, Zebra Consultancy, was awarded the contract without going to tender.

The company started offering its services to ZESA in 2003, but the only available records are that of September 7 2016 wherein a contract worth $USD1,6 million (for Harare province only) was signed valid for a period of one year.

Zim Morning Post carried out a background check of the company but records of its existence could not be found  at the Registrar of Companies offices leaving a ‘ black hole’ on the ownership and capacity of the company.

A quick google search also yielded no positive results on the structure and track  record of the company giving credence to claims that it was a briefcase company and no due diligence was undertaken before awarding the contract.

These startling revelations were stated in a forensic audit report conducted by PriceWaterhouse Coopers and gleaned by this publication.

 The report further states that Zebra Consultancy   started working   and financially benefiting from  Zimbabwe Electricity Transmission Distribution Company (ZETDC) in 2003 with no contract.

“We discovered that Zebra Consultancy started working for ZETDC from September 2003 without a contract,” reads part of the audit.

 According   to sources within ZESA Holdings, over a billion dollars was paid to Zebra consultancy  over  the period in question and the records were all distorted by some senior managers.

“Over a billion dollars was paid to Zebra Consultancy and some top managers (names supplied) were behind the deal and they were benefiting and some are believed to be behind the company’s shareholding.

“They were paid over $USD 1 million for one year and at that rate basing on the period they have been offering services for ZESA in all provinces, do your Math,” said an insider who preferred anonymity.

Zim Morning Post also learnt that anyone who dared to question how Zebra Consultancy was awarded the deal was reprimanded.

 A victim is former finance director Warner Mtisi who was send packing on September  5 2012 after raising a red flag on the relationship of some of ZESA management  and Zebra Consultancy.

Mtisi was fired two days before the signing of yet another controversial contract wherein ZESA subsidiary Powertel engaged the services of business strategy consultant Dennis Magaya and offered him $USD 44 000 per month.

The five year contract would see Magaya pocketing slightly over $USD500 000.

Mtisi later challenged the dismissal at the Labour Court where former chief executive Josh Chifamba fought tooth and nail to save his interests.

“The only voice of reason was Mutisi who was  fired on 5 September after he objected and questioned the lack of prudence in the deal,” explained our source.

Interestingly, when quizzed on why documents, records  and information relating to Zebra Consultancy were missing in their database, ZETDC manager only identified as Mutimutema said data was lost when the organisation upgraded software.

 “Mrs Mutimutema said that due to change of accounting software they lost all the data,” part of the report stated.