The Zimbabwe Electoral Commission (Zec) has reportedly shelved plans to award a nearly $10 million portable toilet tender to Sanitation Services for use during the 72-day voter registration blitz, following an exposé by NewsDay.
BY BLESSED MHLANGA
Highly-placed sources said Zec had now opened a high-level investigation on the tender handling and had since suspended its procurement committee on allegations of leaking confidential information.
“The procurement committee was suspended and is under probe on how they ended up awarding Sanitation Services the deal when it was clear that they were more than twice expensive compared to the lowest bidder. They also want to know how tender documents were leaked to the Press before the deal was announced,” the source said.
Sources said a meeting chaired by Zec vice-chairperson, Emmanuel Magade last week looked into the tender scam and was now aiming to tighten screws.
“The procurement committee told commissioners that in awarding Sanitation Services the tender, they had noted that there was a cartel, which was manipulating the tender process using different company names to place quotations. The committee said it had chosen Sanitation Services because they appeared to be legitimate,” the source said.
The Sanitation Services deal would have cost Zec $5 million more compared to the lowest bid of $4,2 million by Millytake Enterprises for the supply of 206 portable toilets.
Millytake Enterprises, registered in 2008, is owned by Mike Chimombe and Rusero Mitchell, who have since lodged a complaint against the alleged fraudulent tender award.
Magade denied that the commission had awarded the tender to Sanitation Services, but said a detailed response was being prepared by Zec.
“There is a difference between a recommendation and an award. The procurement committee had its private deliberations and made its recommendations. It is those that I believe were leaked to the media, but wait because a full response on the matter is being prepared,” he said.
Zec chief elections officer, Constance Chigwamba, who requested written questions in her response after receiving the mail, said she was still investigating the matter and would respond.