SHOCKING: Zim Govt Robs Motorists to Save Broke AirZim

SHOCKING: Zim Govt Robs Motorists to Save Broke AirZim
Published: 2016 July 15 13:35:17 (6356 Views)
Motorist in Zimbabwe are paying high figures, four times as much to get vehicle registration plates, contributing to a fund that has been used to keep broke state-owned Air Zimbabwe in the air.

It costs $160 to get a number plate in Zimbabwe, more than the range of $12 to $40 paid by motorists in South Africa, Namibia, Botswana, Zambia, Kenya and Uganda.

Zimbabwe registration plate fees go into a ‘New Vehicle Security Registration Number Plate Revolving Fund’ set up by government to collect cash from the sale of number plates.

The fund imports blank aluminum plates for on-selling to vehicle owners.

In 2014, the fund reported $17,5 million in vehicle number plate sales, up from $16,3 million the previous year.

Robbing road-user Peter to pay for flying Paul

According to the 2015 report by the Auditor General (AG), the number plate fund has paid over $30 million on behalf of Air Zimbabwe. Between 2012 and 2013, the fund made a cumulative $23 million payments on behalf of Air Zimbabwe, without Treasury approval.

“For the second year running, the Fund made payments to some of Air Zimbabwe’s service providers, without obtaining prior Treasury authority. The payments were treated as long term loans, although there were no interest charges raised. This was contrary to the Fund’s constitution,” the AG found.

“The accumulated payments amounted to $22,909,504 (2012: $19,875,976) as at December 31, 2013. I noted with concern that all the loan agreements were not signed by Air Zimbabwe and no repayments had been received to date.”

In 2014, the fund loaned Air Zimbabwe an additional $7,6 million, with $3,7 million of the total advance being made without Treasury approval, the AG said.

In response, the fund’s management sought to justify the advances saying the airline was facing viability problems.

“Air Zimbabwe has been facing viability challenges requiring urgent financial assistance from government. Negotiations with Treasury were successful and thereafter Treasury approval has been sought and granted,” the fund’s management said.

However, the AG noted that, at the time of the 2015 audit, no proof of the claimed Treasury authority had been provided.

A recent parliamentary committee report on Air Zimbabwe showed the airline is generating an average $2.65 million per month, against monthly expenses of $5.94 million. The company has a $298 million debt, which the government is poised to take over in a bid to clean up the airline’s balance sheet as it scouts for a technical partner to salvage the business.

Dodgy payments

In 2013, the fund also paid $555,572 which was not supported by invoices. Cash withdrawals amounting to $89,000 were made without the chief accountant’s approval and supporting payment vouchers. A further $292,462 in payments on behalf of the Transport Ministry’s head office were made without payment vouchers or invoices.

“Without adequate documentation, I could not satisfy myself whether the transactions were proper charges against the fund,” the AG stated.

To which the fund management responded tersely: “The observation is noted. Corrective measures will be taken.”

The AG further noted that the number plate fund’s 2014 accounts reflected payments amounting to $813,555 on behalf of the parent transport ministry for fuel procurement as well as travel and subsistence allowances.

“This was in contravention of the fund’s constitution which states that income should be applied towards financing costs of production and distribution of vehicle number plates,” the AG admonished.

The fund’s expansive expenditure on non-core payments to AirZim shows it is overcharging for the number plates, something government has admitted to.

In May, Transport Minister Joram Gumbo promised to reduce the number plate fees.

“My ministry is currently reviewing the cost of number plates with a view to making them more affordable. When we do that, we will still have to come back to Parliament and have everything gazetted in the interest of the public,” Gumbo told Parliament.

Serial contractor

The Central Vehicle Registry (CVR) partnered Southern Region Trading Company (SRTC) – a serial, often uncontested supplier to the Transport Ministry – in the supply of number plates introduced in March 2005.

In terms of the number plate deal, CVR, through the number plate fund, contributes 60 percent of the raw material purchase price, with SRTC weighing in with the balance and having full custody of the material.

The Workington-based company, which is registered as Univern and calls itself “a leading supplier to Zimbabwe’s Ministry of Transport and Communication,” has been embroiled in some controversy.

The firm won a 2012 tender to supply 40 motorised graders worth $8 million to the Zimbabwe National Roads Authority (Zinara). While the rural district councils who got the equipment protested that they were ‘snow graders’ not fit for purpose, Zinara went and procured a further 40 graders through Univern for another $8 million, this time without going to tender.

At the time, Zinara justified not going to tender, saying the second purchase “used the results of the first tender and Zinara merely had to rise on the first tender.”

Univern/SRTC was to strike an even more lucrative deal with Zinara, this time for vehicle licencing software valued at $54 million in 2013, also without going through tender.

According to the AG, the cost of the software was not stated upfront, but the agreement would see Zinara pay Univern 18.5 percent of total revenue collected through the system for 10 years.

By December 2013, Univern had been paid almost 40 percent of the software cost, getting $21 million as commission, with nine more years to go.

This year, Zinara has said it expects vehicle licence revenue to reach $200 million, from which Univern can expect to pocket $37 million, which adds up to more than $300 million for the duration of the contract.

Zinara management made an undertaking to the AG to negotiate with Univern for the reduction of the commission percentage, with a committee having been set to pursue this task.

Zinara did not respond to questions last month from The Source, asking whether the Univern commission had been reduced.

Univern also partners Zinara in the administration of about 20 toll gates, another contract the company got without going through tender.

In January, transport minister Gumbo voiced concern over Univern.

‘Government is gravely concerned at the intricate contractual relationship that now exists between Zinara and Univern,” Gumbo told Zinara management.

Who is Univern?

Univern Enterprises is a Zimbabwean-registered firm, which sometimes trades as Southern Region Trading Company (SRTC). A check with the companies registry in Harare showed that SRTC is not registered, but the company name was reserved by Univern’s owners.

The company’s directors are listed as Laurence Neil and Sherice Sher, who have been directors since inception in 1996, as well as Musekiwa Kumbula (since 2005). Company chief executive, Serge Levy, was appointed director in 2014.

The Shers appear to have dual Zimbabwean and South African citizenship, while Levy, the Zimbabwe National Chamber of Commerce (ZNCC) businessman of the year for 2015 is Zimbabwean. Newspaper reports have suggested Serge is related to late businessman Sam Levy. The Source could not independently verify this.

Kumbula, who has previously worked as a communications consultant for ZANU-PF and featured prominently during the 2000 elections, has strong ties to former ZANU-PF senior official Ray Kaukonde, a top ally of former Vice President Joice Mujuru.

Interest in the company’s ownership seems to extend beyond journalistic scrutiny. On March 30, 2015, a letter on a Central Intelligence Organisation official letterhead and signed by a ‘Senior Manager, Operations’ was delivered to the Registrar of Companies,

‘Please assist this office with details of the following for official investigations: Univern T/A SRTC.”

The reason for the inquiry was not immediately clear.

- The Source
 0

You May Like These Videos

Comments

| Comment With Facebook Submit

There are no comments.

Big Reads

Pictures show fuel tankers offloading fuel in the bush

by Moses Zhou | 2019 August 13 07:53:37

Schoolgirl drops out after continuous 'sexual abuse' by teacher

by Staff Reporter | 2019 August 13 07:42:33

Bulawayo prostitutes dollarise

by Staff Reporter | 2018 December 01 00:43:29

DRAMA as mourners fight over deceased loan sharks' loot

by B-Metro | 2018 November 30 23:35:19

'Tsvangirai's ex' on police wanted list

by B-Metro | 2018 October 19 12:39:23

Dumped man glasses wife's face with broken beer bottle

by Staff Writer | 2018 October 19 12:32:05

Zimbabwe prostitutes hike prices

by Zimbabwe prostitutes hike prices | 2018 October 18 17:13:08

Pastor shocks female congregant with new panties

by Metro Writer | 2017 March 28 10:50:44

Harare man steals 10kg mealie meal from neighbour

by Court Reporter | 2017 March 28 07:56:29

Four company directors die in Vumba Mountain plane crash

by Staff Writer | 2017 March 28 07:38:59

Man with 'deformed' body bashes parents

by Staff Writer | 2017 March 24 09:48:46

Mugabe Knows Nothing About The Zimbabwe Constitution: MP

by Staff Reporter | 2016 October 01 08:12:02

Troubled Harare Giants Dynamos Falls Into Another Deep Crisis

by Own Correspondent | 2016 October 01 07:49:17

Shock As Local Bank Denies 'Rich' Mugabe's Son Heifty Credit

by Own Correspondent | 2016 September 30 19:14:54

Mugabe "Home Coming" And "Thank You" Rally On Cards

by Own Correspondent | 2016 September 23 06:48:24

Prof Moyo Was Dumped By Western Embassies, Claims Mutsvangwa

by Staff Reporter | 2016 September 22 10:08:07

Prof Jonathan Moyo In Fresh Beef With War Vets

by Own Correspondent | 2016 September 22 07:48:10

You Are Too Old To Lead, Aging Zim President Mugabe Told

by Own Correspondent | 2016 September 22 07:19:25

Younger Lover Beats Up Sugar Mama For Cheating

by Own Correspondent | 2016 September 20 03:21:43

Anti-Corruption Commission Loses Property In Failed Probe

by Own Correspondent | 2016 September 20 03:18:19

Mutsvangwa's Son Caught Up In Rape Case

by Own Correspondent | 2016 September 20 01:24:00

REMAINING PSL FIXTURES: ONLY 7 WEEKS LEFT

by Sports Correspondent | 2016 September 20 01:21:33

Victims Involved In Horror Crash Named

by Own Correspondent | 2016 September 20 01:16:09

Man Kills Uncle For Taking Him To Prophet

by Own Correspondent | 2016 September 20 01:11:08

Mphoko Threatens Zimra Over Irregular Taxes

by Own Correspondent | 2016 September 20 01:07:44

China Pours $46m On New Parliament Construction

by Own Correspondent | 2016 September 20 01:05:11

SHOCKING:14 Year Old HIV-Positive Boy Rapes 7 Pupils

by Own Correspondent | 2016 September 20 00:04:55

Tajamuka Slams Zimpapers, Fumes Over

by Own Correspondent | 2016 September 19 11:56:42

Mthwakazi Activists Torment Mujuru

by News Editor | 2016 September 19 10:52:58

We Did Not Fire Live Bullets: Police

by Staff Reporter | 2016 September 19 08:09:20

Ruling On 58 Protesters Expected Today 



by Court Reporter | 2016 September 19 08:10:40

6 Zanu PF Youths Nabbed For Assaulting Cops

by Court Reporter | 2016 September 19 08:11:50

Mutare Con-artist Cracks Zanu PF

by Own Correspondent | 2016 September 19 08:13:32

MSU Student Caught Peddling Drugs Tor Tuition Fees

by Own Correspondent | 2016 September 19 05:29:18

ZIMRA Dishes Out Rewards To Faithful Tax Payers

by Own Correspondent | 2016 September 19 05:24:19

Headmaster ‘Steals’ $17 000 From School's Fees

by Own Correspondent | 2016 September 19 05:21:24

Mujuru Party Fails To Pay $15 000 For Printed T-shirts

by Own Correspondent | 2016 September 19 05:14:37