HARARE – The National Railways of Zimbabwe (NRZ) Management team has been fingered in a corruption scandal involving awarding a scrap steel tender to a Chinese company not involved in the bidding process, TSTnews has learnt.
By Taurai Bvumo
Investigations done by TSTNews show that NRZ management illegally cancelled a tender won by a Zimbabwe owned company and unprocedural awarded the tender to a Chinese company which did not bid for the contract.
According to sources at NRZ, the unlawful awarding of the tender to the Chinese firm was allegedly done inorder for management to get kickbacks.
The tender was worth US$225 000.
A victim of the alleged corruption who spoke to TSTNews Daniel Chikaka said although he won the bid to buy scrape from NRZ, the management went behind his back and stole his partner by smuggling him into the deal in return, allegedly, for kickbacks.
“I brought Youngwei Guo into the scrap steel deal as my partner because he was to finance my bid to procure scrap steel from the NRZ and the managers at the company sweet-talked him to renege on his earlier undertaking to partner me in the deal,”
“The NRZ management stole my partner in the scrap steel deal and they made money through corruption. They were paid handsomely by the Chinese national. Some of them even boasted about the rich pickings they realised from diverting my business partner and smuggling him into the procurement arrangement which he had not even tendered for,” an aggrieved Chikaka said.
TSTNews is in possession of a contract which was signed between, Bentttad Metal Scrap Merchants owned by the Chikaka and Polypackaging (Pvt) Ltd owned by the Chinese National.
“We hereby by agreeing to work together, Benttad Agencies (Pvt) Ltd (referred to as Benttad) being subcontracted by Polypackaging (Pvt) Ltd. Benttad won the tender from NRZ for cutting and collecting scrap wagons which amount to US$225 000 for 500 tonnes, which will be delivered to Panellink in Kelvin South, directions by Poly Packaging after payment (has been) made to NRZ by Polypackaging. All rights and risks going to pass to (sic) Polypackaging,” read part of the agreement.
According to Chikaka his partner, as a result of the agreement, deposited money for the procurement of steel, into the NRZ account, whose aim was to finance the procurement of the steel.
“On December 8, 2018, Guo deposited US$225 000 into the NRZ account which was for the steel that I, under the banner of Benttad Scrap Metal Merchants, had acquired from the NRZ.
Chikaka said he was alerted after he saw the scrap being delivered to Poly Packaging premises, not the initial address mentioned in the deal.
After a series of investigations Chikaka discovered that NRZ General Manager Lewis Mukwada had a stake in the matter after constantly seeing him with the Chinese National.
TSTNews contacted the NRZ public relations manager Nyasha Maravanyika, who said the rail company had followed due process in awarding the tender to Polypackaging.
Maravanyika said the company, Polypackaging, was involved in the tendering process since the beginning but had failed to meet the standards a claim Chikaka disputes.
“From what I have been told, Polypackaging was part of the 71 companies that bid for the scrap steel in the first place. They, however, did not make it into the top 10 owing to a number of reasons,” Maravanyika said.
Maravanyika told TSTNews that they only took the tender to other companies after Chikaka and his company failed to meet the dead lines since the money was needed by the parastatal as an emergency.
“Benttad, I am told, was given three grace periods up to December 12, 2018 during which it failed to pay for the scrap. That is why the tender board decided to cancel the deal with them because they had failed to come good on their side of the bargain. The NRZ did not choose who was to be handed the deal because of other reasons but simply because they had the money to pay for the scrap steel,” he said.
Mukwada together with other top officials have been nabbed in various corruption cases in which it is alleged they either duped the parastatal or awarded tenders to some undeserving companies.
TST News understands that the management has since been given a vote of no confidence by the cabinet last month and Minister of Transport and Infrastructure Development Joe Biggie Matiza.
Matiza is pushing to have a new management to head the parastatal by September.