THE Zimbabwe Anti-Corruption Commission (Zacc) is investigating a corruption scandal at the City of Harare in which council bosses allegedly awarded a multi-million dollar contract for the supply of Covid-19 personal protective equipment (PPE) to a shelf company without following specified tender procedures.
The NewsHawks understands that Zacc investigators last week requested and were furnished with documents relating to the contract and are keen to interview suspended Harare town clerk Hosiah Chisango, who allegedly authorised the irregular deal worth ZW$51 520 000.
Chisango is already facing criminal charges of allegedly parcelling out residential stands to his relatives. The irregularities were unearthed during an internal audit carried out by the city’s audit chief Archibald Nyamurova in September last year. The audit recommended that the anti-graft watchdog further investigate the case.
The audit showed that Eqstra Hardware and Electricals was handpicked for the deal to supply 10 000 Tyvec suits. The local authority lost ZW$19 720 000 in the deal.
The audit report also said the deal was entered into in violation of the Public Procurement and Disposal of Public Assets Act, which specifies that contracts exceeding one million dollars should go through a public tendering process.
Eqstra, the audit report further said, was given the contract although it did not appear on the list of suppliers recommended by the Ministry of Health and Child Care.
Zacc chairperson Loice Matanda-Moyo confirmed that an investigation was underway.
“I can indeed confirm that the commission received the said audit report and is seized with the matter. We will furnish you with further details when the investigation is complete,” she said.
According to the audit report, the deal raised suspicion after a realisation that the shelf company was charging more for the kits than government-recommended suppliers. Further to that, auditors noted, the Eqstra kits prices were inflated by over 100%.
Further information on the murky deal also emerged this week suggesting that Chisango, together with City of Harare finance director Stanley Ndemera and supply chain manager Never Murerwa had actually approved a price variation amounting to ZW$5 521(US$68) from ZW$2 997 (US$37) per kit.
Information obtained by The NewsHawks this week also suggested that the company, owned by businessman Albert Ndambambe who, according to the audit, was in 2017 blacklisted by the same council after his other company, Furbank Hardware, was allegedly involved in an equally shady deal, and was not on the list of suppliers initially shortlisted for the deal.
Chisango declined to comment on the matter this week, saying: “I will not comment on an issue which is still under a formal investigation.”