THE National Railways of Zimbabwe (NRZ) has dismissed two senior managers for increasing, “under unclear circumstances”, the refurbishment cost of the chairman’s club house in Bulawayo under the first phase of the project.
Initially, refurbishment cost for the seven-roomed house under Phase 1, had been calculated at US$98 000, but the fired managers allegedly increased the cost procedurally to US$214 778.
NRZ acting public relations manager Mr Martin Banda said the dismissed managers, whose names he could not reveal citing professional reasons, were employed in the technical department while the other one yet to appear for a hearing is employed in the finance department.
“The managers that have been dismissed were involved in a case, which was investigated by the loss control and services department as well as the internal audit.
“NRZ went to tender for the renovation of the house 242 Leopold Takawira, the NRZ chairman’s club house at an initial cost of US$165 461,15 which later increased to US$214 778,73 under unclear circumstances.
“The renovation was to be done in three phases, with phases one being work within the house for US$98 000 and phase two and three involving fencing, driveway and swimming pool at a cost of US$65 000,” he said.
Mr Banda said 12 potential bidders did a site visit but only six submitted bids from which only four qualified before the winner was selected.
“The investigation unearthed that the scope of works was changed and works such as swimming pool, paving of driveway and palisade fencing were deferred.
“But variations of up to US$116 531,48 were paid without the knowledge of the general manager (Mrs Respina Zinyanduko) as the accounting officer thereby, raising the cost of phase one from US$98 000 to US$214 778,73,” he said.
Mr Banda said the variations were above the 20 percent allowable threshold as per the Public Procurement and Disposal of Public Assets Act Chapter 22:23 and the NRZ Procedural Order which deals with procurement.
He said the managers involved deliberately avoided standing regulations and circumvented the office of the general manager who is NRZ’s accounting officer.
They also avoided tender processes thus prejudicing NRZ of a lot of money without any meaningful corresponding value, said Mr Banda.
“Given the magnitude and the level of staff involved the matter was tabled for the board’s consideration.
“The full board supported management’s recommendation for the involved managers and staff to be disciplined for their indiscretions.
“Two of the managers are no longer employees of NRZ, while the other manager is due to appear before a disciplinary hearing to answer for his actions in this costly transaction to the organisation,” he said.
On the NRZ general manager’s official house in Bulawayo which is undergoing some renovations to the tune of US$47 000, Mr Banda said: “A tender was floated and bids were received with the cheapest being US$139 045,52 whilst the other tendered at $20 million which was equivalent to US$153 953,32 using the prevailing auction rate at the time (US$1: ZWL130.1567) in March 2022.
“The general manager then cancelled the tender which was too expensive for the NRZ. Ironically the same company which was involved in the renovation of the chairman’s house had been recommended by the committee.
“She then gave the task of the renovations to a housing committee which was already working on a project to assess all NRZ buildings requiring attention system-wide.”
He said the NRZ boss advised the committee that the expected costs for the works required at her official residence were not to exceed US$50 000.
“The fact that NRZ went to tender for this project means a budget existed, and NRZ recorded a huge saving of US$92 045,52 with the approach done by the housing committee, the renovations final total is US$47 000 against an initially tendered amount of US$139 045,52,” he said. *Herald*