Future of Zesa boss uncertain

Future of Zesa boss uncertain Josh Chifamba
Josh Chifamba

Josh Chifamba

Golden Sibanda Senior Business Reporter
ZESA Holdings group chief executive Engineer Josh Chifamba’s three-year term of office expires today with no indications on whether his tenure at the helm of the power utility will be extended amid reports there are questions on how a US$35 million facility from a regional development bank was spent.

This also comes after the expiry of the tenure of the Zesa Holdings board last December. The situation could create a crisis on how best to harmonise or synchronise the group’s operations.

Complications could also arise considering the fact that the chairpersons of Zesa Holdings units sat on the holdings’ board for ease of syncronisation of group operations under a common structure.

The terms of office for Zesa Holdings’ subsidiaries namely Zimbabwe Power Company, Zent Enterprises, Powertel and Zimbabwe Electricity Transmission and Distribution Company, run until 2015.

Apart from the potential crisis on how to harmonise the group’s operations in the absence of a substantive CEO and board for such a strategic entity, sources said there were numerous outstanding issues.

“The minister (of Energy and Power Development, Dzikamai Mavhaire) has not indicated what he is thinking,” said one source.

“It is not clear whether Eng Chifamba’s term of office will be extended.” Before joining Zesa, Eng Chifamba was working for Lesotho Electricity Company.

Eng Chifamba was thrust to the helm of the ultra-strategic parastatal to oversee the disbanding of the power utility, collapsing of the group holding structure and the privatisation of its units.

The plan was mooted during the tenure of Mr Mangoma under inclusive Government, but was later scrapped by the incumbent Government. Mr Chifamba would allegedly have joined one of Zesa’s units.

Efforts to get a comment from Minister Mavhaire were fruitless yesterday as his phone went unanswered until the time of going to press yesterday. Zesa spokesperson Mr Fullard Gwasira referred all questions to the parent ministry.

Sources said outstanding issues at the firm include questions on how a US$35 million facility secured from a regional development bank was spent on procurement equipment from an Indian firm.

It is alleged that equipment for substations were allegedly procured without due process in terms of designs, specifications and approvals amid fears the equipment could be incompatible with required designs.

Further, it is alleged that the delivery of some of the equipment was done before the actual sites for the substations, that were to be installed in Bulawayo and Gweru had been identified.

In addition, it is alleged that the procurement and payment were railroaded without the participation of the contracted installer of the equipment, Zesa’s subsidiary, Zent Enterprises.

Sources said the some of the equipment, whose procurement is approved at the holding level, was allegedly delivered without factory testing to determine suitability.

Herald Business also understands that the procurement, from PME of India, was allegedly done without going to tender nor a bill of quantities with fears abound prices could have been overstated.

Industry sources said grey areas around the procurement of the equipment was related to the sacking last year of former Zent managing director Mr Tererai Mutasa after he questioned some of the irregularities.

In other labour related cases, a number of subsidiary companies managing directors were sacked during Eng Chifamba’s tenure and these include ZPC managing director Mr Noah Gwariro, Powertel managing director Mr Samuel Maminimini and his finance director whose name was only given as Mr Mutisi.

Three of the subsidiaries whose directors were sacked last year are currently being headed by acting managing director except generating unit, ZPC’ Mr Gwariro has since been reinstated to his post.

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