Commercial Farmers' Union of Zimbabwe

Commercial Farmers' Union of Zimbabwe

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Govt probes new car number plate tender

Govt probes new car number plate tender

Saturday, 15 January 2011 19:45


THE Comptroller and Auditor General (CAG), Mildred Chisi is instigating
investigations into alleged irregularities in the award of a tender for the
production of new vehicle number plates amid revelations that the price for
the plates is inflated.

Motorists, forced to pay US$160 to change to the new number plates, are
complaining that they are being fleeced by the government.

Police have also started impounding vehicles with old number plates after
the government said those that failed to meet the changeover deadline should
park their vehicles until they comply with the directive.

Defiant motorists can be fined and their vehicles impounded.

The interest by CAG in the matter is likely to re-ignite debate on the way
the issue of new number plates was handled and expose cases of corruption in
the Ministry of Transport and Infrastructural Development, a document
obtained by The Standard has revealed.

Chisi confirmed last week that she had received reports alleging some
officials in the Ministry of Transport had a hand in ensuring that Southern
Region Trading Company, reportedly run by a South African, received the
tender for producing the number plates.

“I cannot confirm off-hand what is happening, but I received a letter
detailing corruption regarding number plates,” she said, before referring
further questions to the Transport ministry.

Efforts to get a comment from either Nicholas Goche, the Transport minister
or Partson Mbiriri, the permanent secretary, were in vain last week.
However, Mbiriri wrote an article in the state media defending government’s
heavy-handed way of dealing with motorists who missed the deadline but did
not respond to complaints that the number plates were overpriced.

The Standard has it on record that the CAG and the Anti-Corruption
Commission visited the Transport ministry investigating a number of alleged
corruption cases including abuse of funds.

It is alleged that two ministry officials facilitated that Southern Region
Trading Company receive the tender for processing the new number plates.
“The Jewish businessman (Southern Region Trading Company proprietor)
clinched the tender to supply number plates with the help of two ministry
officials,” employees at the ministry said, on the basis of anonymity.

The workers challenged their bosses to reveal how they arrived at US$160 as
the price for the set of new number plates.
An official at Southern Region Trading Company confirmed that they were
processing the new number plates, but immediately cut short the interview
when pressed to reveal more about the tender.

“Yes we are making the new number plates, but where did you get my number,”
she said, abruptly terminating the conversation.

It has since emerged that the company is at the centre of an alleged
corruption scam involving the supply of cars to the same ministry.

According to a dossier that has been sent to the Auditor General’s Office,
Southern Region Trading was in 2007 reportedly awarded a tender to supply 22
Nissan trucks to the Vehicle Inspection Department (VID) and was paid US$500

Chisi could not confirm that it was the same document in the possession of
The Standard.

It is alleged that the company is yet to supply these vehicles.

Officials at the ministry are alleged to have stalled the delivery of the
vehicles and shared the money.

As a token of appreciation, the South African businessman is said to have
employed one of the officials’ daughters at one of his companies in the
neighbouring country.


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