Saturday, 25 July 2015

Saviour Kasukuwere under fire over money deals

Combative Local Government minister and Zanu PF political commissar Saviour Kasukuwere is in the dog box following stunning revelations in Parliament this week that he tried to force mining companies to pay consultancy firm Brainworks Capital millions of dollars. 

Appearing before the parliamentary portfolio committee on Youth Indigenisation and Economic Empowerment on Thursday, mining companies Zimplats, Unki and Blanket said they were asked by Kasukuwere, who was then minister of Indigenisation, to pay Brainworks varying amounts — although they had not engaged the firm for any services.
Saviour Kasukuwere under fire over money deals
Unki Mine Chief executive officer James Maphosa told the committee — chaired by Gokwe-Nembudziya Zanu PF MP Mayor Wadyajena — that despite them dealing with the National Indigenisation and Economic Empowerment Board (Nieeb), the company had received a “request” in June 2014 to pay Brainworks $3,2 million for advisory services.

Maphosa said they resisted the directive, arguing that the basis for the payment would not meet their “rigorous” governance procedures.

“Our response was that we did not understand why we were supposed to pay the money given that we had not entered into any contract with Brainworks and we did not appoint the firm to do consultancy for us,” Maphosa said.

Zimplats officials also said they had been billed by Brainworks although they only had contact with the company during their discussions with Nieeb.

“I am not sure why we were asked to pay about $16 million as we never had any contract with them, but we received a letter on which an invoice was attached,” said Garikai Vera, the company secretary.

This prompted Wadyajena, in agreement with other committee members, to direct the officials to prepare for reappearance with “all the documents we asked for”.

Blanket Mine chief executive officer Steve Curtis said they had paid about $250 000 to Brainworks, although they too had not engaged the company for its services.

Curtis revealed that his company paid on behalf of Nieeb because they wanted to speed up the indigenisation process.

He also revealed that Brainworks had only come on board after 90 percent of the work had been done.

However, Curtis said his company had no qualms with paying, saying Brainworks had “assisted “them a lot in having the company indigenised”.

“We were not unhappy with the payment because we felt it was worth it. We understood that Nieeb did not have money, yet we wanted the process of indigenisation which was proving to be complicated to go through. The benefits of having the company indigenised were worth the payment,” he said.

This did not appear to satisfy the MPs, led by Zanu PF Chipinge South MP Enock Porusingazi and MDC’s Godfrey Sithole of Chitungwiza North, who continued pressing him why they paid for services that they had not requested.

But Curtis insisted that the invoice his company received was for the professional work of indigenising Blanket Mine.

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