The Zinwa board and management were yesterday grilled by Parliament over the manner in which multi-million dollar contracts for dam constructions were awarded to non performing firms resulting in failure to complete jobs timeously.
The Parliamentary portfolio committee on public accounts chaired by Makoni West MP, Webber Chinyadza said dam projects were being implemented at a slow pace at a time the country was grappling with the typhoid outbreak.
The committee had asked Zinwa to explain delays in dam construction projects which resulted in unnecessary costs and the hiring of incompetent contractors.
But Zinwa chairperson Never Mhlanga told the committee the stagnation of projects during the period 2004 to 2009 had been due to lack of funding, serious brain drain, lack of equipment and low levels of interest by contractors during the Zimbabwe dollar era.
“The main challenges we were facing when audit was done were hyperinflation and underfunding to complete projects in 2004 to 2009,” said Mhlanga.
“Other challenges we faced were lack of capacity by some of our contractors as their equipment was substandard and availability of raw materials like cement and diesel was scarce, and like any other organisation we also had brain drain.”
Mhlanga said the contractors went through the State Procurement Board, while Zimra gave their specifications of the technical requirements. MPs said Zinwa was failing to do enough monitoring on contractors and ordered that a list of companies awarded contracts be forwarded to the committee for scrutiny. According to Zinwa, indigenous contractors were given a 10% discount and they also assisted by training whereby engineers from Zinwa were seconded to them. The Comptroller and Auditor General’s office said 432 pipes channelled to Mtshabezi pipeline went missing in 2009.
However, Zinwa Operations Manager, Israel Rwodzi said the equipment had since been taken to site and Mtshabezi dam was now 82% complete.
Rwodzi said the $24 million Mtshabezi dam project was expected to be completed by the end of this year but the only hindrances were lack of power lines and electrification. Zinwa said some contracts were awarded to Italian and Chinese firms while others were awarded to locals.