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LSU in unscrupulous procurement deals, authorities unfairly suspend transport officer

by Stephen Jakes
30 Jul 2021 at 14:42hrs | Views
LSU Pig sty structure built without tender
LUPANE State University (LSU) under the administration of Vice Chancellor Pardon Kuipa has again been caught in an unscrupulous goods procurement process and construction project without following tender process, a development that has resulted in a transport officer being suspended for misconduct while the university has been blacklisted from the forex auctions due to that.

Recently the university was in the media spotlight for the wrong reasons after some female staff members exposed the VC of sexually abusing them while other staff members of Ndebele tribe accused him of victimizing them and dismissing most of them on tribal grounds.

The latest issue involves the university's procurement unit which sources say is headed by an unqualified person appointed to the position on tribal grounds by the VC and his administration. It is alleged that this happens when Ndebele people get suspended and fired for flimsy cases.

Indications are that there is a company called Firestone Trading with the account name- Zicartel PVT Limited which was allegedly contracted by the PMU manager Knowledge Muvirimi to clear PA system components and they smuggled the said goods into the country.

But, a search by university internal sources on the authenticity of the company established that is non-existing amid condemnation that the PMU is supposed to be taken to task over use of a non-existing briefcase company without even going to tender.

They noted that Firestone Company is not into clearing urgency which was used to transport goods from South Africa and their banking details have a different name (Zicartel) and they don't exist from the address stated which means it's a briefcase company.

"According to the invoice attached the company supplies canopies, Nudge bars and they don't exist at 100 Samuel Parirenyatwa corner 10th Avenue instead there is an audit firm operating there. In addition to this there were no three quotations used when selecting Firestone and the company is not the sole urgent in the clearing industry," said the source.

In the construction of a pig sty quotations were used instead of a tender, one quotation was supplied before plan was given to PMU which has a date 19 April 2021 when a plan was sent to PMU on 3 May 2021.

The sources also revealed that the PMU prefers buying from companies based in Chinhoyi where the VC came from. Some of the said companies would be having Bulawayo addresses and ban accounts domicile in Chinhoyi.

"Ndebele staff members get suspended and fired for trivial issues, while corrupt PMU manager continues to siphon resources and buying from Chinhoyi companies for a CUT. Even if a company has a Harare address, the banking details will be Chinhoyi," said the source.

"The companies do not operate from the provided physical addresses, they have not a clearing agents but a vehicle canopy manufacturer, there is no comparative table of other companies. The company in question failed to produce customs clearing documents. As a result LSU was blacklisted from participating in the Forex Auction Floors. So the university has been banned from competing in the forex auction."

Following the flopped procurement deal, the university has instead of charging the PMU manager, has allegedly wrongly charged and suspended the transport manager Richard Makhwelo for misconduct after Stuttafords Removals transporter carried furniture without an order.

The sources said the university is in possession of one of the malfunctioning items and supplied by the company that does not exist to return the item.

Charges laid against Makhwelo by the VC according to the charge sheet relating to the Statutory Instrument 15 of 2006 are that he contracted Stuttafords Removals to transport furniture for examinations from Parkade to ZITF and vice-versa without following the Procurement procedures.

"You were expected to collect three (3) quotations from suppliers and submit those to the Procurement Management Unit (PMU), which is the unit responsible for procurement of goods and services at the Lupane State University. Your actions exposed the University to various risks that could have been avoided if all procedures were adhered to. Further, you engaged the service provider without a purchase order, which is a violation of the University procurement procedures," read the charges.

"You willfully decided to disregard the procurement procedures for fraudulent reasons, as you planned to benefit from the whole business transaction by ensuring that only the supplier (Stuttafords Removals) is considered, therefore, closing out some suppliers who would have charged less for the same service. It is, therefore, believed that you had interests on the transaction and, therefore, deliberately made sure that only Stuttafords gets the business and in the process your interests be saved."

The VC further charged that Makhwelo disobeyed an official order, given to him in relation to the Stuttafords case which was under investigations.

"You were asked to respond to some questions and given the deadline for the report, you deliberately chose not to obey the order by totally ignoring the communication made to you. Your actions did not only affect the investigations (process of gathering the facts) but undermined the authority of the office given the authority to do so. Your actions are an indication that you disregard some offices, giving rise to the belief that you disregarded the PMU office because you thought the office is not as important as yours. In doing so, you breached some sections of the Model Code of Conduct (S.I. 15 of 2006)," reads the charge sheet.

"Such behaviour/ performance are an act of serious misconduct on your part in terms of the Statutory Instrument 15 of 2006. You are therefore being charged for violating Section 4, subsections (a) which reads: - any act of conduct or omission inconsistent with the fulfillment of the express or implied conditions of his or her contract, (b) which reads: - willful disobedience to a lawful order; and (d) which reads: - "Theft or fraud". Please note that these charges are categorized under the serious misconducts and carry a maximum penalty of dismissal."

Meanwhile the University's PMU has also given a construction company an order of $1,6million for the construction of a pig sty and the work is being supervised by the university PMU manager while the VC is alleged to be protecting the manager.

"Construction work is supervised by Works and Estate departments and the contractor is paid through certificates and goes for tender," said the internal source.

"This guy PMU manager was a grounds man eats Chinhoyi and was employed as a procurement officer and now an acting manager at LSU. At some point he used other employees' ID numbers to buy a mealie meal from Zapalala and when staff members wanted a mealie meal they were told they had been collecting it."

The source says previously a pig sty construction at a cost of $300 000 and it went through formal processes. He said now the same pig sty is costing $1.6 million and it's being constructed in violation of the procurement Act.

"The VC also accepted sub-standard material for building for the pre-fabricated structures and that's procurement fraud, but no charge is being laid against them," he said.

Makhwelo's disciplinary action is pending.

Source - Byo24News