ZESA Holdings (Zesa), through two of its subsidiaries, paid $51 000 to Fruitful Communications (Fruitful) — a company owned by Highfield West Zanu PF legislator, Psychology Maziwisa.
Zesa chief executive Josh Chifamba yesterday told a parliamentary portfolio committee that Energy minister Samuel Undenge had directed Zesa subsidiaries Zimbabwe Power Company (ZPC) and the Zimbabwe Electricity Transmission and Distribution Company (ZETDC) to enlist Fruitful for public relations (PR) consultancy work without board approval.
“The letter that came from the minister for Zesa companies to do business with Fruitful Communications was not copied to me, so initially I was not aware of the consultancy. Upon learning of the issue, I stopped the payments immediately . . .
“I have always been upfront about this issue, we have a PR department and I did not approve of the way things were done in this instance,” Chifamba said.
Parliamentary portfolio committee on Mines and Energy chairperson, Daniel Shumba, grilled Chifamba and acting ZPC managing director Joshua Chirikutsi over the legality of the shady contract.
The bottom-line is we want to understand from you as the present leadership if the deals were done above board because the way I see it, the State was prejudiced of thousands in a move that was not even approved by the Zesa board,” Shumba said.
But Chirikutsi, who could not be drawn to outline the legality of the transactions, said ZPC had merely acted on the minister’s directive.
“The Fruitful Communications transaction and relationship was not approved by the board . . . while I cannot say it was illegal, I can say that it was not done through normal competitive procedures,” Chirikutsi said.
Undenge’s dictate came despite the fact that Zesa, ZETDC and ZPC all have fully-fledged PR departments.
Owned by Maziwisa and former ZBC anchor Oscar Pambuka, Fruitful Communications organised conferences, prepared press statements and ran brand visibility campaigns for the two Zesa subsidiaries, with the campaign supposed to have run until 2018.
This comes as cash-strapped Zesa reportedly owes regional power suppliers over $800 million amid massive load-shedding concerns