The new Zimbabwe National Road Administration (Zinara) executives yesterday told parliament’s Public Accounts Committee they stopped paying Golden Roads consultancy fees after shelling about US$70m in 2019 for securing a Development Bank of Southern Africa loan for the construction of the Plumtree-Mutare highway by Group Five.
Paid for US$70m securing a US$200m loan
The new Zinara team led by board chairman Dr George Manyaya and chief executive Nkosinathi Ncube appeared before the committee in parliament in Harare to give an update on what they have done to address findings and recommendations from the Grant Thornton forensic audit in 2016.
Golden Roads, initially called Santanah, was contracted by Zinara. The advisory function of Golden Roads to Zinara/Infralink started in 2009.
Santanah promised Zinara to open lines of credit, funding facilities and available to Zimbabwe funds for infrastructure projects.
Santanah was reportedly paid for securing a US$206 million loan from the DBSA for the roads project. It further engaged Group Five for the construction of the highway.
As a result, it charged 3% of draw down and included in the loan a yearly administration fee of 2% on the gross value.
Terminating the deal, 10 years later
After the new Zinara team came in led by Ncube, they stopped paying Santanah, and with the support of the Transport ministry asked for justification of the payments in 2020.
Zinara has now engaged lawyers on how to terminate the contract without serious legal consequences.
“This issue was raised in the 2016 forensic report and all those employeess implicated have left the company, while some have resigned. Zacc is investigating the issues and the Case Reference number is RR86/09/19, and the Court Ref. No is ACC77/99,” Ncube said.
Meanwhile, Zinara board chairman Dr Manyaya also told Parliament’s Public Accounts Committee that of the 74 findings raised in the Grant Thornton forensic audit in 2016, they have addressed over 90% of irregularities unearthed, including several legacy corruption activities.
“We are cognisant of the fact that these funds we are talking about belong to the public and we must handle them with probity and propriety,” Manyaya said.
Addressing past irregularities
“We are happy we are one of the first state enterprises to collaborate with ZACC to establish an integrity committee which has proved to be useful in preventing mismanagement.
“We are now proactive, not reactive. When we suspect there are some corrupt activities, we act with ZACC.
“With regards to findings of the forensic audit and recommendations by the Public Accounts Committee, we have now addressed most of the issues which include for instance tendering, corporate governance, policy and recruitment matters.
“As an example Zinara has now ceased handling awarding of tenders as this is now being done by the 91 road authorities across the country, and now our mandate is limited to collecting road user fees and disburse them to responsible road authorities in line with the Roads Act.”
Some of the issues Manyaya addressed in his presentation entail structural matters, contracts, tendering, procurement, human resources and recruitment, ICT, finance, board allowances and corporate governance.
The committee had grilled him over that, including corruption findings.
Public Accounts Committee chairperson Brian Dube said: “We are happy to note as per your presentation there are no longer issues like employing executives with Bible certificates and things like hair allowances for board members and managers as stated in the forensic audit.”