It was only after my third issue in March 1991 that I was sued for defamation. The story was about a tender racket in the Posts and Telecommunications Corporation. The company that sued me was Retrofit, owned at the time by Strive Masiyiwa. The story only mentioned the company in the last paragraph saying it had been engaged to rectify a shoddy job by one of the companies that had won the tender.
Below is the story:
In what might be the tip of an iceberg, the Posts and Telecommunications Corporation has uncovered a racket in which tenders were awarded to unregistered companies.
It is believed that some employees of the corporation had interests in these companies but this could not be immediately confirmed.
The extent of the racket is not yet known but one case involving $2.8 million is already before the courts.
The Insider also has information on fresh deals involving a company called Earth (Pvt) Limited and another called Megatron (Pvt) Limited.
There are very few details about the Megatron job which involved electrical installations and security lighting at a staff house in Mount Pleasant at a cost of only $4 016.23.The job was done in November 1989.
The Earth tender was, however, extensively investigated. According to a report which The Insider has, the tender involved electrification of 15 staff houses at Hwange.
Tenders for the job were advertised in August 1987. This was a formal tender which required the Government Tender Board’s authority.
The report, prepared in October last year (1990), says an investigation was launched after it had been discovered that although the tender was awarded in 1987 the project was still not complete by June last year.
The investigators were, therefore, asked to examine how the tender was awarded, whether the evaluation of the tenders received was satisfactory, why the work was still not complete, and what follow-up action was done to ensure the successful completion of the project.
The investigation revealed that two tenders, one for $12 483 from Earth (Pvt) Limited and another for $15 699.90 from Electroreps (Pvt) Ltd, were submitted.
The tender was awarded to Earth through the Government Tender Board resolution 0437 on November 4, 1987.
The analysis and evaluation of the tenders received was conducted by power technician Gedion Chidhakwa and was awarded to Earth because “they fully complied with the technical requirements” and were cheaper by $3 216.90
The report, however, says although the recommendation of the power technician was submitted through the section manager for the Electrical Power and Air Conditioning Department (EPAC), the senior engineer EPAC, and the Government Tender Board, certain established procedures were not followed.
Explaining the procedure, the report says electrical specifications of the project should be prepared by the engineer or other nominated official in the department. Cost estimates to facilitate comparison of the quotations or tenders received should be obtained from registered contractors.
“After the quotations from contractors have been received, the engineer or the appointed official should of necessity ensure the fulfilment of the following requirements:
- That the submitted tender complies fully with the technical specifications;
- That the companies that have tendered are registered companies;
- That the amounts tendered compare favourably with PTC prepared estimates; and
- That sufficient funds are available in the budget to meet the expenditure.
“It is only after satisfying himself that the above requirements have been met that he should award the contract,” the report says.
The report says although Earth’s tender was cheaper, the company was not registered. The evaluation of the quotation should therefore have revealed this important aspect.
The report says the investigating team only came up with the name of one director of Earth, B. Muzondo of Greendale, who apparently works for ZESA.
As if this was not enough, the report says, the job was badly done and although the initial tender was for $12 483, the final payment approved was for $14 624.31.
The report says this was approved by Chidhakwa on behalf of the senior engineer but without reference to higher authority.
Although the audit report on the quality of the job done indicated that the workmanship of the contractor was below standard with the manager Districts Matebeleland stating: “I was shocked to see the bad workmanship done at the 15 houses”, the report says, there was no record to show that Earth had been asked to rectify its poor workmanship.
Instead another company, Retrofit, was engaged to rectify the job. The team recommended that the PTC should not pay for any work done by Retrofit as it appeared they had been subcontracted by Earth.