Home » Business » U.S.$100 Million Tender Documents Vanish

Tender documents with telephone digitalisation system designs disappeared from the State Procurement Board after seven international firms had been shortlisted for the US$100 million project.Information at hand shows that the documents disappeared in 2001 and police are still to make headway in how the mega project could have been sabotaged.

There are fears that someone at the SPB stole the project design and sold it.

The SPB was then known as the Tender Board, answerable to the Ministry of Finance, when the documents submitted by NetOne disappeared.

NetOne managing director Mr Reward Kangai said the disappearance of the bid documents culminated in the withdrawal of a Japanese investor.

“Extensive network planning documents were stolen and the Japanese withdrew funding they wanted to provide to Zimbabwe,” Mr Kangai said.

He said the Japanese intended to invest US$100 million through the Japan Bank of International Co-operation, which would have seen the country’s mobile and fixed network upgraded to meet international standards.

Mr Kangai said a lot of the telecommunications problems the country faced could have been addressed through the project.

“We had done a detailed optic fibre plan for Harare and other areas in Mashonaland and Manicaland under the Mashonaland-Manicaland digitalisation second phase project,” he said.

“We had done extensive optic fibre to homes and city buildings. Plans were fairly detailed that we could be offering high speed broadband access, but the tender documents were stolen and that project never saw the light of the day.”

SPB executive chairman Mr Charles Kuwaza yesterday confirmed that the bid documents disappeared and a police report was made.

“It is true that certain tender documents were stolen and the matter was reported to the police at the time,” he said.

“Members of the Tender Board secretariat were quizzed, but nothing conclusive came out of that. It remains an unresolved crime. The reporter should follow up with the police.”

National police spokesperson Chief Superintendent Paul Nyathi said he was uncomfortable discussing investigations through the media.

“While we appreciate the role of the media in terms of informing, educating and entertaining the public, we cannot conduct inquiries through the media,” he said.

“In fact, we request the State Procurement Board to contact the police station where the report was lodged to raise their concerns and clarify issues properly.”

Insiders told The Herald they were surprised that NetOne was only making this public 13 years later. Further, they querried the systems in place at the SPB and why NetOne and the tender authorities did not have back-up documentation for such a major project.

Questions have also been raised about the security of technical information supplied to the SPB, which can be passed on to rival bidders before they formally submit bids and thus bring opacity to State procurement and expenditure.

The SPB has in the past been accused of overseeing slow adjudication of tender applications, hampering speedy implementation of Government projects.

The Parliamentary Portfolio Committee on Budget, Finance and Investment Promotion in 2012 recommended that the SPB be overhauled to stamp out corruption and give more tenders to companies stationed in areas where projects are to be carried out.

The board has also been accused of not following up on project implementation and weigh it against what potential contractors claim in their tender applications.

Source : The Herald