AT least 10 companies are bidding to audit the solar power project between the Zimbabwe Power Company and controversial businessman Wicknell Chivhayo, energy minister Simon Khaya Moyo has revealed.
Moyo, appearing before the Mines and Energy committee of parliament earlier this week, said the auditor general is in the process of sifting through applications from the interested audit companies.
“There is, of course, the famous Gwanda project,” he said adding, “I am not going to speak much about it except in the end to say to you that efforts are being made.”
He added, “She (auditor general Mildred Chiri) is presently, as I speak, engaging some competitive companies which will undertake this work.
“So, I didn’t want to be seen to be taking any action without the assistance of the auditor general and the company; whichever they will come up with.
“They have gone to tender, and they have 10 firms, and they want to make sure the winning bidder, once identified and the process is complete, then of course we shall know what exactly is happening.”
Chivhayo is fighting allegations that the tender for the Gwanda project was unprocedurally awarded by ZPC, a subsidiary of power utility ZESA Holdings.
The former jailbird was also reportedly given $5 million advance payment for pre-commencement works but only accounted for $2 million.
Minister Khaya Moyo said an external forensic audit was the only logical way to effectively address the alleged gaps in the awarding and managing of the contract.
“I personally believe that I don’t want to shoot in the dark. I must be clear about what exactly is there on the ground,” he said.
“I can’t do that by involving people who are suspected to be part of the programme and it was, therefore, necessary on my part to invite the auditor general to carry out a forensic audit.
“We are extremely confident whatever will come out of this forensic audit will give us ways of how we can open a new page in terms of implementation.”
Chivhayo, who has in the past posted photographs having dinner with the former first lady Grace Mugabe and her children, was believed to have exploited his links with the first family to swindle the power company.
With president Emmerson Mnangagwa on an anti-corruption crusade, Moyo said the audit has been widened to cover all subsidiaries of Zesa Holdings.
“I have a letter which I received from her, that is (auditor general) Mrs Chiri, confirming to me that they are on this matter not only the Gwanda but also the entire Zesa operations and its subsidiaries,” he said.