$31m city tender scam sucks in 5 more
Former Harare City treasurer Misheck Mubvumbi and four councillors were nabbed over the $31 million tender scam to rehabilitate Firle Sewage Works, as the net closes in on more serving and former councillors and executives implicated in the fraud. The Sunday Mail recently revealed that the Zimbabwe Anti-Corruption Commission (ZACC) was investigating 40 Harare councillors and executives over the same allegations.
The arrest of Mubvumbi and four councillors brings to eight the number of people arrested so far in connection with the city tender scam.
Former town clerk Tendai Mahachi, waste water manager Simon Muserere and water director Christopher Zvobgo have since been arrested in connection with similar charges and are out on bail.
According to the State, when the offence was committed, councillors Wilton Janjazi (47), Urayayi Mangwiro (42), Masiye Kapare (48) and Paula Macharangwanda (51) were procurement board members.
Mubvumbi and the four councillors, who are facing criminal abuse of duty as public officers, were yesterday arraigned before magistrate Ms Barbara Chimboza.
They were released on $400 bail each, coupled with stringent conditions, among them surrendering their passports and reporting once a week to the police. They are being represented by Messrs Simudzirai Machingauta, Jacob Mafume, Steady Kachere and Trust Chivale.
The prosecutor Mr Sebastian Mutizirwa alleged that sometime in 2010, City of Harare started a programme to upgrade and rehabilitate sewer plants at Firle and Crowborough in Harare. The programmes were spearheaded by Muserere and Zvobgo, who were responsible for waste water reticulation management.
Mubvumbi was to secure funds for the rehabilitation projects. His alleged accomplices, Kapare, Janjazi, Macharangwanda and Mangwiro formed the procurement board.
During that time, City of Harare was governed by the Urban Councils Act Chapter 29:15, which set out tender procedures and the role of the procurement board. In addition, City of Harare came up with a tender procedure award and administration of contracts and procurement of stores material manual.
The manual stated that procedures and regulations shall be used without exception in all departments for transparency. It is alleged that the accused persons smuggled unregistered companies for the award of the contract for the Firle sewage works.
They allegedly hand-picked Energy Resources Africa Consortium (ERAC) for a contract. Acting in connivance, the accused reportedly came up with an unpriced bill of quantities for the rehabilitation works and corruptly neglected to request the bidders to submit the required documents.
They disregarded laid down procedures and intentionally by-passed the tender formulation team.
On tender opening day, all the accused persons, well knowing that ERAC was not registered, circumvented the tender verification team which could have picked up the anomaly, the court heard.
Tendai Rupapa Senior Court Reporter