THE Central Mechanical Engineering Department (CMED) has suspended its fuels manager Brian Manjengwa without salary pending a disciplinary hearing on August 27 as the parastatal moves to investigate how it was fleeced of $2,7 million in a botched fuel deal.
CMED was up in arms with First Oil after the latter failed to supply three million litres of diesel despite being paid.
The suspension was the second at the parastatal after managing director Davison Mhaka was sent on indefinite forced leave on full benefits on August 7.
The suspension came as the trial of four First Oil directors, supposed to start today, won’t take place as the Prosecutor-General (PG)’s Office wanted to complete investigations after CMED wrote letters implicating Manjengwa, Mhaka, PetroTrade acting chief executive officer Tanaka Sikwila and National Oil Infrastructure Company (NOIC) chief executive officer Wilfred Matukeni.
CMED accuses the quartet of working hand-in-hand to allegedly defraud the parastatal.
A source in the PG’s Office last night said that more needed to be done in light of the new evidence from CMED.
“We now have a copy of the board of inquiry report into the case and CMED has also written to us saying that Manjengwa and Mhaka can no longer be State witnesses as they should be the accused,” the source said.
In the letter of suspension dated August 18, CMED acting managing director Tambirai Nhongonhema said during the period of suspension, Manjengwa would not be entitled to salary and benefits as his case involved financial prejudice to the company.
“You are, therefore, requested to surrender the motor vehicle and laptop in your possession to the loss control manager by the close of business hours on 19 August 2014,” Nhongonhema wrote.
Manjengwa was accused of allegedly dismally failing to carry out a due diligence that “First Oil Company had the fuel in Zimbabwe and hence failed to protect your employer”.
Manjengwa was also charged with wilfully disobeying a CMED board resolution to purchase bulk fuel from a company which had the fuel in Zimbabwe.
CMED said Manjengwa had written a letter to NOIC seeking to confirm whether it was recently holding fuel for Globe Investments “knowing fully well that CMED had recently awarded the tender to First Oil”.
“This letter shows that you worked in cahoots with Globe Investments to commit fraud,” CMED alleges.
CMED alleged that Manjengwa had facilitated the fraud by jointly “authorising the release of the $2,7 million on the pretext that you had done a due diligence on availability of the fuel at NOIC”.
It turned out that there was no fuel at Msasa.
CMED accused Manjengwa of conducting “a fraudulent and fake due diligence using letters obtained from NOIC and PetroTrade. Your actions aforementioned place you as an accomplice in the crime of fraud and the resultant actual prejudice of $2,7 million to your employer.”
First Oil had won the bid to supply fuel on the strength that it was offering the cheapest price per litre of $1,21 than three other suppliers — Comoil ($1,25), MAPS Petroleum ($1,26) and Sakunda Energy ($1,28) — despite making an unsolicited bid.
It, however, failed to deliver the fuel.
A board of inquiry chaired by former Attorney-General Sobusa Gula-Ndebele unearthed serious irregularities in the awarding of the tender as no due diligence had been done.
The investigations showed that First Oil won the contract despite the fact that its licence had expired on December 31 2012 and was only renewed on May 27 2013, pointing to lack of due diligence on the part of management.
“Technically speaking, this means that management awarded a tender to a company that was not registered in terms of the regulations governing the fuel industry,” the inquiry found.