BY Staff Reporter
Civil Aviation Authority of Zimbabwe (CAAZ) chief executive David Chawota has been suspended, pending the finalisation of his court case in which he is facing charges of flouting tender procedures after awarding a Spanish company a €27 900 000 contract without approval.
Transport minister Joel Biggie Matiza was quoted in the State media confirming Chawota’s suspension with immediate effect.
Chawota allegedly flouted tender processes by awarding a Spanish company a contract for air traffic control and communication systems and he appeared before Harare magistrate Rumbidzai Mugwagwa on Wednesday, facing criminal abuse of office charges.
The State alleges that in May 2013, Chawota initiated a tender process for the supply of air traffic control systems.
It is alleged that Indra Sistemas SA PL from Spain was awarded the tender for the supply, delivery and installations of Radar Surveillance systems worth US$19 838 000, while Intelcan Technosystems of Canada was awarded the tender for installing the navigation aid system at a cost of US$3 921 938.
AME ATM was awarded a US$4 305 824 tender to supply the air traffic control communication system, while Canadian Data Software Limited was given the air traffic control simulator tender for US$552 150.
The State alleges that one of the bidders challenged the awarding of the tender to Indra Sistemas, resulting in the cancellation of the award by the Supreme Court in January 2016.
It is alleged Chawota, however, implored the CAAZ board to directly engage Indra Sistemas despite a court ruling that a fresh tender be issued.
Eventually, the CAAZ board on Mach 1, 2017 resolved not to consider the Indra proposal because of the risks involved in dealing with a company which had failed to meet minimum mandatory requirements which would jeopardise passengers’ safety.
It is alleged on June 5, 2017 Chawota again without board approval arranged a meeting with officials from Indra at the Reserve Bank of Zimbabwe.
Through the Office of the President and Cabinet, Chawota requested the State Procurement Board to engage Indra, alleging that the company had brought a funding package which CAAZ had been failing to raise and an award was granted.
It is further alleged that on December 20, 2017 Chawota went to Spain, purportedly for a due diligence, but instead signed a contract with Indra valued at €27 900 000.