The parliamentary portfolio committee on Mines and Energy yesterday took Transport and Infrastructure Development permanent secretary Munesu Munodawafa to task for illegally issuing duty-free fuel certificates for two power projects.
BY TATIRA ZWINOIRA
Munodawafa was grilled for signing a duty-free certificate for an unspecified amount out of the 300 million litres of diesel over a 12-months period meant for the Dema Bulk Power plant and Kariba South Power Station Extension projects. Under Statutory Instrument (SI) 184 of 2014, only the government is able to receive duty-free fuel.
As such, the diesel deliveries to these projects have since been halted.
Committee chairperson, Daniel Shumba asked Munodawafa on whether he knew what he was doing was “illegal”. The latter defended his actions by stating that the projects were of national status.
“In terms of SI6 of 2016, government specifically provided for national status projects to be given duty free certificates. Under this instrument, only capital equipment is provided for machinery to be used in energy, mining and agriculture. This excludes fuel and that is not an accident but deliberate,” Shumba said.
Munodawafa responded by citing letters from Cabinet and the ministry of Energy and Power Development. However, Shumba reminded Munodawafa that the letters were not SIs and, as such, had no legal standing.
“But that does not make it legal. You and I can agree that the letters were illegal and could have been prejudicial to Zimbabwe to the tune of millions even though if it could have beneficial to the economy. It does not matter what the executive is putting across in letters because we are the legislation,” Shumba responded.
If the issuance of the fuel had not been stopped, government would have lost a potential $120 million in duty, as the price of diesel per litre was 40 cents mid last year.
Munodawafa later agreed his actions were illegal, but justified himself by saying this was not intentional.
“I have not issued certificates other than from the instruction of the executive or treasury. I am not sure whether it was legal or not,” he said.
To this, Shumba and some of the committee members present showed their dismay and disbelief at how Munodawafa could not know what he was doing was not following procedure.
What aided Munodawafa throughout the proceedings was a letter from Treasury to Speaker of Parliament Jacob Mudenda corroborating his defence. The letter from Treasury was dated March 8. But, the committee reminded him that the letters were not legal instruments.
“I will approach the Attorney General to discuss how legislation can be drawn up to support the letters I received and make that provision for fuel towards these projects,” Munodawafa said.
Both the Dema Bulk Power plant and Kariba South Power Station Extension projects were given national project status.