The Sunday Mail
Former Rural Electrification Agency (Rea) chief executive officer Engineer Emmanuel Midzi has been implicated in a fraud case involving US$2,7 million after his private company allegedly failed to implement 28 rural electrification projects whose tender he won under unclear circumstances.
Investigations by The Sunday Mail revealed that Eng Midzi’s company — Alpha Detail — placed a bid for various rural electrification projects that were floated under tender number 01-13 last year.
Alpha Detail and 18 other companies were pre-qualified by a tender adjudication committee to undertake the projects, but Eng Midzi’s company was later singled out to handle the lucrative projects allegedly under questionable circumstances.
Allegations against Eng Midzi are that he understated figures to clinch the deal using inside information to disadvantage other bidders.
However, soon after winning the tender, Alpha Detail’s quotations allegedly shot up astronomically, resulting in the parastatal paying about US$2,7 million for the electrification of 28 rural schools and clinics.
Investigations that unearthed some of the projects included Mahusvu Phase 2 in Murehwa, Rupange primary and secondary schools in Chikomba as well as Mutata-Magudu primary and secondary schools in Uzumba-Maramba-Pfungwe (UMP).
However, Alpha Detail only managed to do one job.
Information obtained shows that despite receiving payments for setting up project sites and implementing the project, Alpha Detail still failed to connect electricity to the rural centres.
The initial arrangement was that the company would share the 28 projects with 18 other local companies, but the decision was reversed clandestinely by Rea officials.
“Eng Midzi has links with Rea officials who feed him with inside information before placing bids for advertised tenders. The former chief executive has an unfair advantage over other companies and this raises questions on how he is always winning Rea tenders.
“Further, even after winning last year’s US$2,7 million tender, he failed to implement the projects,” sources said.
It is also alleged that Eng Midzi failed to implement another project in which his company was supposed to connect an electricity line from Arcturus to Murehwa in 2012.
Despite these allegations, Alpha Detail continues to win Rea tenders and reports suggest it is likely to clinch another deal this year.
Rea has advertised tender OPS/02/2014 whose closing date was April 8, 2014 for the electrification of rural schools and clinics across the country’s 10 administrative provinces.
Sources close to the deal warned that controversy stalking Rea tenders was likely to engulf this year’s US$2 million tender. Approached for comment, Eng Midzi defended his company, saying he successfully implemented all the projects.
“These allegations are absolute nonsense,” he charged.
Eng Midzi argued that he was never involved in any shady deals in bidding for the tenders but simply abides by what was expected by the parastatal.
He added that Rea explained to all bidders the charges expected for site establishment, site maintenance costs and fees to move away from the site after implementation of projects.
“Our competitors overcharged, hence they lost the tenders because everything was above board. Our prices were the lowest and we won the tender since tender regulations state that the lowest bidder must be awarded the tender.
“We implemented all our projects, we did all the jobs we were awarded,” said Eng Midzi.
Rea spokesman Mr Johannes Nyamayedenga professed ignorance over the case.
The parastatal’s chief executive officer, Mr Joshua Mashamba, could not be reached for comment as his personal assistant said he was locked up in marathon meetings.
Subsequent calls went unanswered.
Rea is a statutory body governed by the Rural Electrification Fund (REF) Act. The execution of its mandate involves the implementation of the Electricity Grid Extension, which involves extending the electricity grid network to over 10 000 rural public institutions such as schools, health centres, Government extension offices and farming communities.
The agency is also involved in Electricity End Use Infrastructure Development (EEUID), which promotes economic use of electricity in rural areas through the development of energy-intensive irrigation schemes and agro-industries.