The People’s Democratic Party (PDP) has called on Samuel Undenge, the Energy and Power Development minister, to resign over a multi-million tendering scam at the Zimbabwe Power Company (ZPC), and accused the Zanu (PF) government of running a “secret economy”.
Undenge admitted in late May that ZPC had erred in paying a convicted fraudster, Wicknell Chivayo, an advance $5 million for a $200 million solar project in Gwanda without a bank guarantee from the consultant as stipulated by State regulations.
The guarantee would enable ZPC to recover its money if Intratek Zimbabwe, the contracted firm, failed to fulfill its commitments.
Initial reports from government-controlled media indicated that Undenge had directly ordered the ZPC management to pay Chivayo’s company, amid concern that he could have personally gained from the deal.
“Such an inevitable requirement (bank guarantee) should have been considered in the case of $5 million advance payment to Intratek by the Zimbabwe Power Company,” said Undenge in a statement then.
He added: “In this regard and noting the many energy projects that we are embarking upon, it was necessary for me to engage both management and the ZPC board chairman on this issue” even though he insisted that the boob would not lead to financial prejudice.
The PDP is led by Tendai Biti who served as finance minister during the 2009-2013 coalition government and broke away from Morgan Tsvangirai’s MDC in early 2014.
“As PDP we must express our utmost disgust at the failure by Minister Undenge of taking full responsibility (for) the continuing corruption at ZPC and ZESA (Zimbabwe Electricity Supply Authority).
“We demand that he resigns or be fired immediately for corruption and undue and unethical interference in the normal course of business at these companies. This is the cancer of corruption that we speak of which can only be addressed by cutting off those limbs that are causing the rot,” said Musewe in a statement.
He, however, expressed doubt that President Robert Mugabe would fire Undenge since “he would have to fire his whole cabinet and also resign himself because he must also ultimately take responsibility for the sins of those he has appointed”.
Mugabe has repeatedly condemned corrupt public officials but stands accused of failure to get rid of them.
Recently, he revealed that Zimbabwe lost at least $15 billion from Marange diamond proceeds since 2009, yet he did not take action against the culprits despite repeated calls for action against those responsible for gem leakages, among them top politicians from his party.
“It is not new for Zanu (PF) ministers to interfere in the running of state enterprises which fall under their mandate. In fact, that is all they ever do as they scheme on how to make money from any tenders, projects or contracts that are currently in play.
“It is evident to us at PDP that the current shenanigans at ZPC and ZESA are a microcosm of the broader economy which has ceased to be productive, but is now characterised by a Zanu (PF) secret economy of corruption and quick deals,” said Musewe.
He added that Mugabe’s party and government operated a “looting machine whose sole business is to plunder our resources” and operated through state enterprise projects where questionable loans were given and project costs inflated.
He blamed Mugabe for appointing and keeping the corrupt officials.
“The Zimbabwean taxpayer, for generations to come, is already burdened by ZANU (PF) corruption and will continue paying dearly for state enterprise “loans” for the next twenty to thirty years.
“That will be the legacy of Mugabe and his predatory cabal whose insatiable greed and profligacy must be funded by poor Zimbabweans,” said Musewe.
Corporate and legal experts and have already condemned Undenge for his role in the ZPC saga.
Terrence Hussein, a government lawyer who has appeared on behalf of Mugabe in the past, said some cabinet ministers and heads of parastatals had turned their institutions into “petty cash cows”.
Undenge was recently in the eye of another scandal after reportedly imposing a private public relations firm on ZESA despite the authority having a department serving the same purpose.