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Storm over US$87m dam project

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…plot to oust probing MP exposed

…I’m not going anywhere, vows Wadyajena  

DESPITE growing pressure for him to step down from the parliamentary committee on Lands, Agriculture, Water and Rural Resettlement to pave way for an investigation involving alleged abuse of office, Gokwe-Nembudziya MP Justice Mayor Wadyajena said he will not succumb to those making such calls and will pursue cases he is investigating to their logical conclusion.

MOSES MATENGA

Wadyajena, who is the committee’s chairperson, is currently leading a probe into how a local contractor, Grindale Engineering (Private) Limited, won the US$87 million Vungu Dam construction tender and received an advance payment of over US$2 million.

He has been accused of settling personal scores through the committee, an allegation he denies.

Wadyajena’s committee summoned the Zimbabwe National Water Authority (Zinwa) and Grindale Engineering to Parliament this week to bring with them documents outlining how they got the tender and if they met the legal requirements of acquiring government tenders.

Only Zinwa officials attended while Grindale Engineering formally asked to be excused because of the unavailability of their technical team.

The meeting was postponed to 4 August.

“Thank you for your letter dated 18th July 2022 inviting us to appear before the Committee following Parliament’s visit at Vungu Dam. Grindale Engineering’s technical team is not available on the requested date. It is therefore our humble request that the hearing is scheduled to another date that will allow us to have our requisite technical team available for the meeting,” the company’s managing director, Engineer Grison Muwidzi, wrote.

“The presence of our team will assist you in getting any information that may be of interest to you in this respect.”

Wadyajena said: “We went to tour the project in Silobela and made some requests for purposes of clarification on tender, engagement of suppliers for the Vungu Dam project.

“We had invited Grindale Engineering, but they wrote a letter and said they received the invitation on July 18 and they wanted more time. It is therefore our request that we reschedule to another date.”

 “I have seen and read a lot on calls for me to recuse myself. I am not recusing myself,” he said.

“I am here to stay and I will be chairing you on August 4, 2022,” he said.

The committee is also investigating how several contractors were awarded contracts to construct critical dams across the country, including the Vungu Dam project.

Information at hand suggests that work on the Vungu Dam was supposed to have reached the 10% mark, but it was still at 2% despite over US$2 million having been availed to Grindale Engineering.

But Grindale Engineering insists it was on course to completing the project on time, the company’s first dam construction project, but bemoaned the government’s slow pace of disbursement of required funds.

The dam construction was set to take 36 months and the handover to the contractor was only done in January this year.

The government has disbursed a total of US$2 624 271.51 of the required US$8.7 million, which is 10% of the total cost of the dam construction.

When completed, the dam is set to benefit the nearby community with irrigation facilities for over 1 200 hectares.

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