BY DESMOND CHINGARANDE
CAPS United boss and businessman Farai Jere appeared before a Harare magistrate on Saturday charged with fraudulently securing a US$3 566 878 electricity smart meter tender.
He was remanded in custody to today together with accomplices Zimbabwe Electricity Transmission Distribution Company (ZETDC) engineer Leonard Chisina and information technology expert Freeman Kuziva Chikonzo.
Allegations are that sometime in 2016, Jere won a tender to supply the ZETDC with 1 151 smart meters and a head end system (HES) at a cost of US$3 566 878.
It is alleged that the key element of the contract was that a factory acceptance test was to be conducted in the factory where the meters were manufactured.
Jere’s firm, Helcraw Electrical, was also supposed to finance the travel costs for the delegation to do the tests and the head end system was to be a two-way wireless communication.
It is the State’s case that Jere misrepresented to ZETDC that Secure Meters (Pvt) Ltd had a manufacturing plant for smart meters and HES in the United Kingdom, yet it did not have.
The State alleges that on November 24, 2018, three ZETDC engineers Chisina, Mapipi and Tshuma as well as Chikonzo accompanied Jere to the UK to carry out the tests.
While in the UK, Jere allegedly took the engineers to a warehouse where there were some smart meters.
As a result, the factory acceptance test was not done as required.
It is alleged on the specifications, the meters that the engineers tested had a base current of 10 amps and a minimum of 100 amps and they failed the tests.
Jere, it is alleged, produced a fake factory acceptance test visit report purporting to have met the requirements and asked the four ZETDC officials to sign.
Chisina and Chikozho allegedly signed the fake document while Mapipi and Tshuma declined.It is alleged that the two later signed under duress after being threatened by Chisina.
Jere then shipped 1 151 smart meters which were delivered to ZETDC and were duly paid for.
Upon return to Zimbabwe, the ZETDC team was asked to complete questionnaires on what they observed during the tour.
The State alleges Chisina and Chikonzo indicated that the factory acceptance tests were carried out according to requirement but Tshuma and Mapipi indicated that no tests were conducted.
In January this year, ZETDC loss control manager Rodrick Chikwira and an external consultant were tasked to conduct further investigations and both concluded that no tests were carried out.
ZETDC then resolved to remove from its systems all meters supplied by Jere’s company as they failed to meet minimum requirements.