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July Moyo in $3.5 million scandal

by Staff reporter
03 Jun 2022 at 19:15hrs | Views
Local government minister July Moyo forced the Victoria Falls municipality to scrap a tender for the supply of water pumps in favour of his handpicked supplier, it was reported on Friday.

Moyo's preferred supplier, a company owned by his friend, Paul Kruger, was US$2 more expensive, according to the Zimbabwe Independent.

The report comes as Moyo is the subject of a Zimbabwe Anti-Corruption Commission (ZACC) investigation over another contract for the supply of water pumps in Harare for which Kruger's company, Petrichor Irrigation, was paid US$9.3 million in 2019. The contract was imposed on the City of Harare without public tendering.

Kruger has also been imposed as a consultant on various municipalities, including Bulawayo.

Victoria Falls flighted a public tender for an engineering solution to the town's acute water challenges before Cascade Consulting Engineers were selected.

The company carried out a feasibility study whose recommendations included coming up with engineering designs, constructing a pump house, and expanding and lining the river channel.

For these services, the firm was paid ZW$12 million (about US$40,000), deposited into its Nedbank account last month, according to available documents.

Cascade Consulting then charged US$1.5 million to supply and install water pumps.

But during a trip to Victoria Falls late last year, Moyo reportedly advised council chiefs to "disregard" Cascade Consulting's recommendations and work with Kruger, whose firm Petrichor recommended the need to procure water pumps at a cost of US$3.5 million.

This translates to a price variation of US$2 million between what Cascade Consulting and Kruger charged.

An invoice raised by Petrichor, also known as Agrico, shows that the cost of the work to be done by the company could potentially rise to US$3.8 million.

The invoice, titled: "Proposal for rehabilitation of Victoria Falls Town Water Supply", was generated on December 13, 2021.

A source told the Independent: "Kruger was introduced to Victoria Falls as a ministry of local government consultant by Moyo last year to look and assist with water solutions.

"While the city had already committed and paid for feasibility studies and the engineering designs, the minister advised disregarding all the work done and working with Kruger.

"The solution proffered by Kruger was to purchase and install water pumps at a cost of US$3.5 million against US$1.5 million that was projected by Cascade Consulting whose cost would cover construction of pump house, expanding and lining the channel."

Victoria Falls councillors were also reportedly opposed to Kruger's contract terms and recommendations for reasons that "they did not offer a holistic solution to address the challenge."

Victoria Falls Town Clerk Ronnie Dube declined to comment.

But in a letter dated February 18, 2022, Dube wrote to the local government ministry director Fungai Mbetsa requesting treasury to pay Kruger's company for the rehabilitation of Victoria Falls water infrastructure, in line with the invoices submitted.

"We are requesting that the ministry of finance and economic development pay directly to the suppliers (Agrico/Petrichor) as per the attached invoices. The payment will enable the contractor to carry out the works within the stipulated time frame," the memo said.

Kruger did not respond to questions.

In 2021, when Kruger was questioned on how he was selected to provide consultancy services and water pumps to Harare, he referred journalists to "relevant officials".

ZACC began investigating Moyo after Norton MP Temba Mliswa wrote to them claiming Kruger was corruptly favoured for the supply of the Harare pumps at a cost of US$9.3 million. Mliswa insisted that similar pumps cost just US$2 million from other suppliers.

Kruger, according to Mliswa, had been introduced to Harare as a consultant. It was he who recommended the acquisition of the pumps, only to return as a supplier of the same in what the MP said was a clear conflict of interest.

City of Harare financial documents also show that Petrichor has been contracted to supply pumps at Letombo Pump Station at a project cost of US$4.33 million. It was not immediately clear if the contract was awarded in line with public procurement regulations.

In terms of the Procurement Act, any contract exceeding US$1 million must go through a public tender process.

Moyo is also being sued by Harare residents after handpicking a Netherlands-registered company, Geogenix BV, to convert waste at Harare's Pomona dumpsite into energy.

The US$344 million deal will see Harare handover the site to Geogenix who will start billing the city US$40 for every tonne of waste delivered. The city was also set fixed tonnage deliveries, failing which it would be charged as though it delivered.

Harare councillors on Thursday passed a motion to suspend the contract and set up a committee to investigate how it was awarded and make recommendations.

Source - Zimlive,July,Moyo,Scandal