We did not violate tender laws: Kuwaza

HARARE - State Procurement Board (SPB) executive chairman Charles Kuwaza says there was no violation of laws and procedure in advising the Zimbabwe Power Company (ZPC) to engage two extra bidders for its intended solar projects in Gwanda.

The development also comes as the key economic agency and Dzikamai Mavhaire’s Energy department have been under fire for co-opting Intratrek Zimbabwe (Private) Limited (Intratrek) and ZTE Corporation (ZTE) in the 300 megawatt (MW) tender.

“The record of proceedings shows that this tender was advertised on June 06, 2013 and closed on September 24… after a request by the accounting officer (ZPC managing director Noah Gwariro),” Kuwaza said last week, adding the Zesa subsidiary only submitted its initial evaluation in December last year after further extensions and on the grounds that it was a complex project.

“After satisfying itself that the evaluation met all the requirements, the SPB… awarded the tender to the lowest bidder to specification China Jiangsu for International Corporation (CJIC). In coming to this resolution, we noted that only three companies, according to the ZPC, met all technical specifications,” he said, noting the other three bidders —

Afriven Investments, Lanlake Power and No 17 Metallurgical Construction — had completely failed.

While emphasising that it was Gwariro’s firm which had proposed that Harare engages Intratrek and ZTE with a view to increasing power supply in the country, the long-serving bureaucrat said their decision to support the energy company’s plea was based on key provisions of the Procurement Act (PA) and attendant regulations.

“In considering this proposal, the board observed that power was indeed an albatross on economic revival and that any attempt to bridge the power gap in the shortest possible time should be supported,” Kuwaza said.

“Regarding the legal basis… we took into account the provisions of Sections 5 and 7 of the Procurement Regulations, as read with Section 32 (2) of the Procurement Act dealing with matters of urgent national and security considerations,” the SPB boss said, adding the decision was made in the “national interest and to give ZPC an opportunity to negotiate at the lowest bidder’s price”.

As Kuwaza — with 32 years’ experience of tender and public procurement processes — intimated that those with grievances could approach the Administrative Court (AC) for recourse, it is this privilege that Wicknell Chivayo’s Intratrek had invoked to enforce its rights to participate in the lucrative contract.

In his papers to Johannes Ndanga’s court, the Intratrek managing director argued that the SPB had neither basis nor good reason to deny his company a chance to add another 100 MW to the national grid given the critical power shortages in the country, its solid funding and technical credentials.

“The SPB misdirected itself in not considering the accounting officers’ recommendation in an environment with a serious shortage of electricity. With the liquidity crisis, awarding a local company would assist in the circulation of money locally and create employment,” Chivayo’s lawyers advocate Eric Matinenga and Wilson Manase said, further calling for a suspension of talks between the ZPC and CJIC.

Although the SPB and Gwariro’s company stand accused of “bending rules to favour” the two in some government circles, a perusal of the PA also shows that Chivayo and ZTE’s case might have been helped by a number of clauses of the supreme law.

These sections deal with the eligibility of tenderers — on account of their financial and technical capabilities — and decisions on specific tenders, which also favour local contractors.

While the companies’ detractors have continued to make a fuss, it seems the ZPC and SPB’s decision has brought the matter to finality, therefore, unassailable.

This comes amid revelations that negotiations between the Zesa subsidiary and the bidders — over pricing, and other operational issues — are expected to commence soon.

About two weeks ago, Mavhaire also said there was nothing corrupt about the decision to expand the number of implementing partners for the project and, at any rate, the bidders and the ZPC were due for further discussions on the matter.

Comments (2)

l was reading an article in a british newspaper about Solar Farms, massive power generating solar power stations which took them 8 weeks to build. Only 8 weeks and we are being told that these projects approved by the State Procurement Board will take years to complete.

Roland Ncube - 7 April 2014

what drives who?

mutongi gava - 8 April 2014

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