MDC Renewal Team leader Tendai Biti yesterday attacked the Zanu PF government for deliberately inflating the cost of the Kariba South hydro-electric expansion project by nearly 60% and described the move as criminal and a means by corrupt politicians to enrich themselves.
Biti’s comments came barely a week after President Robert Mugabe flew back from a week-long State visit to China where he signed a number of project financings from the Asian giant.
The original Kariba South expansion project signed and sealed during the inclusive government had pegged the contract cost at $355 million, but the figure has ballooned to $533 million.
Zimbabwe Power Company is expected to borrow the difference of $213 million to complete the project.
“These people are corrupt and irresponsible for them to amend an agreed contract that I personally participated in negotiating during the inclusive government,” Biti said.
Biti was then the Finance minister and his ally Elton Mangoma was the Energy minister.
The Kariba South project had been delayed by more than two years now initially after a tender process had to be redone when it was discovered Sino-Hydro had been awarded the contract without following laid-down procedures.
Mugabe officially launched the project last week in the resort town of Kariba and it is expected to increase power generation by 300 megawatts to the national grid when complete in 2017. Biti added: “We don’t understand how all of a sudden the project costs have spiralled especially in a dollarised economy except some people are looking for ways to loot the state coffers.”
The inflating of costs comes hard on the heels of the irregularities discovered on the $144 million Harare City Council water project where the council has discovered that some of the project equipment was quoted five times higher than their market price.
These developments take place as the country’s debt now stands at $10 billion with prospects of defaulting high as the economy is stuttering.