Corruption Watch: Skeletons in the State House cupboard

At that time when July Moyo was the Local Government minister—before he was queerly and ironically moved to Labour and Social Welfare—a tender for the refurbishment of the State House perimeter wall was floated.

In Zimbabwe, drama always pops up just when you think you have been to all the town circuses, and it’s no laughing matter.

You must have heard the news already.

At that time when July Moyo was the Local Government minister—before he was queerly and ironically moved to Labour and Social Welfare—a tender for the refurbishment of the State House perimeter wall was floated.

The tender was won by Paulos Construction, a company owned by one Paul Tungwarara whose only known experience is being the managing director at the firm, according to his yawning LinkedIn profile. 

Way back in 2019, one of the company directors, Tempter Tungwarara, implicitly admitted that Paulos Construction was linked to Zanu PF.

 That was when the opposition-dominated City of Harare produced an audit report that accused the company of fraud.

These are the words from Tempter back then: “The MDC council is pushing a political agenda with false narratives because they do not want companies owned and controlled by people linked to Zanu PF”.

 It’s them who said it, not me. Paulos Construction is owned and controlled by people linked to Zanu PF.

So, there you have it. Here is a company whose ownership is linked to Zanu PF.

The company, of course, vehemently denied it, but the Harare municipality carried out an audit whose findings implicated it in fraud relating to a refuse collection job.

The link between refuse collection and construction is blurred, even though not completely farfetched.

Tempter said their company was wrongly accused, but that’s not where the real story lies.

What’s happening now is that treasury—part of it, rather—is not happy with the Paulos Construction tender.

The company sent a bill of a gut-blocking US$15 million for the construction of the precast wall, a job that is still ongoing.

Now, perimeter walls at government premises don’t go on the ramp at beauty pageants.

Their job is merely to keep you out lest you see how much the occupants are eating in there, so they must not cost the taxpayer big money like that.

Add to that the absurdity that treasury was also billed US$2 million for the re-construction of each gate at State House, enough to build and equip a maternity clinic for our ever-fertile women.

Treasury—well, part of it—thinks that the bill is seriously inflated, considering that market rates don’t come anywhere near that.

But there is another corner at treasury that is insisting that Paulos must be given its money because that’s what is in the agreement.

Which brings us to the next point.

The fact that Paulos Construction has sent a bill to treasury means some evident things.

One, obviously, there was a tender that was given to the Zanu PF-linked company.

It also means that there was a contract that was signed for the construction of the precast wall.

This contract, again obviously, specified the monies that were supposed to be paid to the job doer.

For such a tender to be awarded and a contract done, several agencies, outside the Zanu PF-linked company, are involved.

One, the Local Government ministry which presides over such jobs in general.

Two, the Office of the President and Cabinet (OPC) because it has direct interest in State residencies and properties.  Three, the State Residences directorate.

Four, and particularly important, the Procurement Regulatory Authority of Zimbabwe, which must occupy centre position in the adjudication of high-value tenders like that one.

 Five the presidential close security department and the Central Intelligence Organisation (CIO) more broadly.

Six, the Finance ministry and treasury in particular.  And, oh, there is President Emmerson Mnangagwa and the First Lady too.

This is their official residence, so they must be part of the mix. You can add Zanu PF as the seventh layer/player, but never mind.

So, if the Paulos Construction precast wall tender is going to be classified as a scandal, especially on the basis of the pricing, all the above agents and agencies must take the culpa because they are all directly in it.

Why did Praz award the tender and okay the contract in the first place? Was it not aware of the hugely inflated bill that the company put forward?

Was there no communication with the Finance ministry even at the awarding stage?

 If there was, what did the ministry do about it? There is no way in which a tender relating to State House would be done without the CIO knowing about it.

They are involved from start to finish. Is not puzzling, therefore, that the spooks never as much as raise a finger about it?

Same with the OPC and the State Residences directorate. It’s more likely that Jesus Christ got circumcised when he did the triumphal entry than these departments being excluded from the deal.

 Mnangagwa was certainly briefed about this job. He, naturally, must have asked about the pricing, outside the usual due diligence questions.

If the tender was awarded and the job commenced without the president knowing a single thing about it, then, God forbid, we know what kind of head of State we are dealing with, despite his long history in national intelligence.

But then, there is no way in which he could have been circumvented.

And to that, July Moyo as the then Local Government minister. He knew. But you know the old chap now.

He is the dude who got directly involved in the Pomona waste-to-energy scandal by imposing the deal on the Harare municipality, outside a whole array of other naughty things he has done.

In any case, I don’t see anything that warrants a revamp of the perimeter fencing at No.1 Chancellor Avenue, so this is a staged job meant to take some people to the dinner table.

Question now is: How did the scandalous Paulos job go through and none of these agents and agencies above did anything about it in time?

 Let’s start with the weaker possibility. Lots of people slept on the job.

In Zimbabwe, particularly in government, it’s not surprising to see things just slipping through without notice. But hey, this is a lame excuse.

A very long throw that never gets to the target.

Corruption! That’s the answer.

This is a typical case of Zimbabwean tenderpreneurship.

The moment you hear that a company getting a tender is linked to Zanu PF, you know where things are going.

We don’t know yet how Paulos Construction got the tender, whether that was done straight or not.

But you naturally panic the moment you hear the company has Zanu PF links. The coincidence is informatively ominous.

The next time you hear that people like Wicknell Chivayo are donating cars like confetti, think deep and far.

 That’s the thing that’s done with easy money.

You get Zanu PF-linked companies that get tenders, inflate prices and get other people to do the job as they sit at home.

That’s how they make easy money, the way in which they find it easy to throw away money just like that.

And it’s a whole cartel doing that. Lots of people get something delicious to eat along the way, and that includes big guys.


  • Tawanda Majoni writes in his personal capacity and can be contacted on [email protected]

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