Felex Share Senior Reporter
Zesa Holdings has reversed an inflated tender for smart meters which had been corruptly pushed by former Energy and Power Development Minister Dzikamai Mavhaire with the intention of getting kickbacks from potential bidders.
Cde Mavhaire and his erstwhile deputy Engineer Munacho Mutezo had manipulated and forced Zesa officials to tender for 300 000 smart meters despite being advised that the power utility only needed 60 000 meters.
Sources yesterday said the pair wanted more smart meters so they could get more money through kickbacks, with each bidder expected to pay a certain amount per meter “to oil their hands”.
The Herald understands that Cde Mavhaire and Eng Mutezo had quashed a resolution by the ZETDC board to have a pilot project first, saying that was a waste of time.
Zesa Holdings is now seeking guidance from the State Procurement Board on how to handle the $120 million tender for 300 000 smart meters after more than 300 companies had already bought tender documents.
Effectively, the power utility has to cancel the 300 000 smart-meters tender and float another one with the required 60 000 or the firm has to send an addendum to all the bidders informing them that the quantities have been reduced.
An addendum is an addition made to a document by its author subsequent to its publication.
Zesa management met Energy and Power Development Minister Dr Samuel Undenge last Thursday and resolved to cut the numbers tendered by 80 percent.
The meeting also resolved that the power utility would first have a pilot project of installing 10 000 smart meters.
“We had a meeting with the minister and his team and some ministry officials were tasked with preparing a press statement which is coming out soon,” said a source who attended the meeting.
“The agreement was that let us reduce the number to 60 000 smart meters and begin with a pilot project. We are now in the process of consulting with the State Procurement Board and it is either we will cancel the tender and re-tender or we will simply inform the bidders through an addendum.”
The source said the smart units would be used on large power users.
“The former ministers had argued that 300 000 smart meters would cater for future connections, but technology is fast changing and smart metering technology would have changed in the next few months,” said the source.
“We have agreed with the new Minister that we will derive more benefits if we install the units in industries not on every household.”
Expectations are that the smart metering technology, which reports to the centre any meter by-passing, would curb power theft and increase revenue generation as compared to pre-paid meters.
Zesa has been losing more than $10 million in revenue every month due to defects which were on the pre-paid meters supplied by ZTE from China, Nyamazela of South Africa and local firms Finmark and Solahart.
As a stop gap measure, Zesa is now mounting prepaid meters on poles instead of houses to curb tampering and power theft.
More than 540 000 units of pre-paid meters have been installed since August 2012.
However, smart meters have been rolled out in the developed world,with most African countries still in the testing phase.