I have now had the opportunity to read the letter by Minister Fortune Chasi making recommendations to ZESA concerning the ill-fated Wicknell Chivhayo/Gwanda Solar Power Project. Whatever the merits of the decisions, it is the conflicts of interest that I find worrying.
The critical recommendation is for ZESA to drop litigation in favour of executing the contract. The Minister is persuaded by the “new arrangements” at Intratek which has failed to deliver on the project. It’s the entity that got a US$5 million advance payment from ZESA.
The Minister is persuaded among other things by the arrival on the scene of “high-ranking professionals”. He mentions 2 men, both lawyers. Edwin Manikai and Wilson Manase. Manikai is also the Chairman of Mnangagwa’s Presidential Advisory Committee, a fact stated in the letter.
Manase is chairman of Metropolitan Bank which has been cited by the country’s Auditor General in dubious transactions involving NSSA, the pensions authority. Just a few weeks ago, an executive of NSSA was fired concerning one such dubious investment.
Executives of MetBank have been fortunate to find an appointment to boards of state entities, among them POTRAZ, the telecoms regulator in circumstances of a dark nature. Another organisation that hosted MetBank-associated executives was Cricket Zimbabwe, but let’s return to ZESA.
Suffice to say that Minister Chasi presents a highly favourable description of Manase whom he says is the Executive Chairman of Intratek. It is notable in a recent appeal Intratek was represented by Manase and Manase, a law firm in which Manase is a principal partner.
One of the features of corruption and abuse in our system is the incestuous relationship between advisers and their principals. There are no boundaries and this results in conflicts of interest. It is impossible to be all things to the same client at the same time.
I had hoped that Minister Chasi would do things differently at the Energy Ministry. When he arrived, he promised much and raised expectations. But the return of Dr Sydney Gata as Executive Chair of ZESA was an ominous turn. The about-turn on Intratek is calamitous.
The justification of so-called “high-ranking professionals”, despite the obvious conflicts, prior record and roles as PEPs is quite frankly embarrassing. To an ordinary observer, the ministerial direction concerning litigation has much to do with the role of PEPs than merit.
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