FIRST Oil, the company accused of fleecing the Central Mechanical Engineering Department (CMED) of $2,7 million in a botched fuel deal, made an unsolicited bid as it was not among the three companies invited to bid for the supply of fuel.
CHIEF BUSINESS REPORTER
In February last year, First Oil won a tender to supply 4 million litres of diesel to CMED. CMED paid for 3 million litres of diesel excluding duty which it was going to pay directly to the Zimbabwe Revenue Authority.
Despite being paid the money, First Oil failed to deliver the fuel, prompting CMED to report them to the CID Fraud Squad.
A comprehensive report of the board of inquiry into the botched fuel deal unravelled that First Oil was not one of the companies invited to bid for the supply of fuel.
Six companies — Engen, Extreme Oil, Sakunda, Comoil, MAPS and Zuva — were invited to bid for the contract.
Of the six companies, three—Zuva, Extreme Oil and Engen — indicated that they would not respond as they were owed money for previous deliveries.
“Consequently, only three companies responded to the invitation to bid. The bids were dropped in a tender box located close to the reception area. The practice in CMED is that the tender box is opened by the buying office staff in the presence of the internal auditor, who witnesses the tender opening,” the report said.
“When the bids were opened on 22nd February 2013, it was observed that there were four bids in the box. The unsolicited fourth bid was from First Oil.”
According to the report, CMED buyer Maggie Simba sought guidance from the internal auditor Tadakufa Makadho on how to handle the First Oil quotation.
Makadho advised Simba not to disqualify the bid and rather consider it along with others on the basis that the company was on the State Procurement Board approved list.
Makadho advised Simba to seek further guidance from the procurement manager who took the same position that the bid should be considered as the company (First Oil) was offering the lowest price, the report said.
However, investigations by the board of inquiry chaired by former Attorney-General Sobusa Gula-Ndebele showed that First Oil did not appear on the SPB approved list. Its investigations revealed that First Oil had neither the product nor the resources to deliver the product to CMED.
“In other words, First Oil did not have the capacity to perform,” it said.
The investigations revealed that CMED had contracted an unlicenced company, First Oil, to supply the fuel.
“At the time of the tender award, First Oil Company did not hold a valid licence. Its import licence had expired on 31st December 2012 and was only renewed on 27th May 2013. 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 board said.
In June, Transport and Infrastructural Development minister Obert Mpofu gave the new board chaired by Godwills Masimirembwa the task to recover the money.
The 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 over 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 on Friday.