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CMED cracks whip


CENTRAL Mechanical Engineering Department (CMED) staffers implicated in the $2,7 million botched fuel deal risk having their assets attached if the company adopts recommendations by the board of inquiry to recover the funds.


CMED is up in arms with First Oil after the latter failed to deliver 3 million litres of diesel despite being paid last year.

The saga has also drawn in two other state entities—Petrotrade and the National Oil Infrastructure Company (NOIC). CMED accuses Petrotrade acting chief executive officer Tanaka Sikwila and NOIC chief executive officer Wilfred Matukeni of allegedly misleading them to release the money since the two state entities were holding fuel meant for delivery to CMED.

First Oil had won the bid to supply fuel on the strength that it was offering the cheapest price per litre of $1,21 better than three other suppliers—Comoil ($1,25), MAPS Petroleum ($1,26) and Sakunda Energy ($1,28)—despite making an unsolicited bid.

A board of inquiry chaired by former Attorney-General Sobusa Gula-Ndebele recommended that: “All CMED staff implicated in this report and those in the procurement should have their assets profiled to verify whether they were not inappropriately acquired.”

The board recommended further investigations into the improper relationship between CMED officials and First Oil “where the latter was kept updated on developments taking place in the company right up to the tender invitation”.

It said the investigation should establish “whether the conduct does not amount to divulging company secrets or defeating the tender process by giving one bidder unfair advantage over others”.

It said the pursuit of NOIC and Petrotrade should be abandoned forthwith because there “were no prospects of success and in any case, they are all state owned institutions”. It said the prospects of establishing liability against them are very minimal.”

It recommended that CMED approaches the relevant government arms for assistance on investigations aimed at profiling of assets associated with either the company or its directors with a view to having the assets so identified attached to repay the CMED debts.

“This is consistent with provisions in the Companies Act that directors are held personally liable where fraud cases are concerned.”

In June, Transport and Infrastructural Development minister Obert Mpofu gave the new board chaired by Godwills Masimirembwa the task of recovering the money.
Mpofu said there were claims that the suppliers were “untouchable”, but “we are going to touch them”.

“We want that money and it will be repaid,” Mpofu said.

The CMED board last week sent CMED managing director Davison Mhaka on indefinite forced leave to facilitate investigations into the matter.

Fuels manager Brian Manjengwa was charged with gross unsatisfactory work performance for having failed to carry out a due diligence on First Oil.

Manjengwa has been ordered to furnish his statement to the human resources executive not later than 4pm today.

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