Tendai Mugabe : Senior Reporter
South African businessman Mr Niko Shefer is reportedly siphoning millions of dollars from the Zimbabwe National Roads Administration as facilitation fee for the $206 million loan accessed from the Development Bank of Southern Africa (DBSA) to refurbish the Plumtree-Mutare Highway. It emerged Zinara is depositing a staggering $300 000 in Mr Shefer’s FNB account in South Africa monthly and that contract is running for 10 years.All Mr Shefer did to deserve such a golden handshake was to link Zinara and DBSA.
He charged 2 percent of the loan amount extended to the road fund.
At the lapse of the 10-year contract between Zinara and Mr Shefer, the road fund would have paid him $36 million.
The money that Mr Shefer is receiving is over and above the interest that Zinara is paying to DBSA for the $206 million loan.
Papers in possession of The Herald showed that Mr Shefer used four different companies to claim money from Zinara.
These firms are Sela, Sentinelle, Santanah and Golden Road.
In some of the internal communications among Zinara executives, the issue was raised as far back as 2014 when it was agreed that Mr Shefer was being overpaid.
Former Zinara chief executive officer Mr Frank Chitukutuku sent the then financial director, Mr Thomas Mutizhe, and company secretary Ms Mathelene Mujukoro to South Africa to renegotiate the deal.
According to a report by Mr Mutizhe, Mr Shefer was only supposed to get 2 percent of the $206 million on a reducing balance until
the full loan had been disbursed.
The minutes that Mr Mutizhe compiled and submitted to Zinara management after meeting Mr Shefer said: “Sela was being paid two percent of the principal amount regardless of the fact that some amounts had been disbursed which the financial director queried with the CEO (Frank Chitukutuku) and he agreed that there was overpayment.
“Mr Chitukutuku then sent finance director and Mathelene Mujokoro to South Africa to represent him in bringing and documenting this issue.
“We did that and minutes were done to the fact that there has been overpayment and that from 2015 the proper interpretation was supposed to be followed until the loan had been fully disbursed. The current Zinara executive continued to overpay administration fee to date (and) this indicates that there is something going on since the loan has already been disbursed and what is left is repayment.”
Transport and Infrastructure Development Minister Joram Gumbo, yesterday said he was aware of the issue and measures were being taken to correct it.
“I was not minister then. I have heard about that and Cabinet has directed us to look into the whole agreement between Zinara and Univern,” he said.
“At the top there is Zinara and Univern and Infralink is just a kid of those agreements.”
In another case of extravagance, Zinara board members and top managers claims board fees when they attend Infralink meetings.
Infralink is a special purpose vehicle formed by Zinara and Group Five for the Plumtree-Mutare Road project.
In one of the payments to the board members on Infralink business seen by the The Herald, board chairman Mr Albert Mugabe was paid ($1, 900), acting CEO Engineer Moses Juma ($1, 710), Mr Jeffrey Nkomo ($1, 400), director human resources Mr Precious Murove ($1, 710) and Mr Davison Norupiri ($1, 400).