CHIREDZI- Chiredzi North Member of Parliament (MP) Roy Bhila has unwittingly exposed Zanu PF’s capture of state enterprises through a leaked conversation with the local Cotton Company of Zimbabwe (Cottco) business manager Innocent Gukwe whom he was arm-twisting to cancel a tender won by a purported MDC member.
Bhila could be heard on the other end of the conversation threatening Gukwe that he risked been fired if he did not reverse the tender for a 31-seater Plaxton Mercedes Benz omnibus awarded to Sasavona Logistics.
The tender required the omnibus to ferry Cottco staff members to and from work.
The bus is alleged to be owned by John Manganye, who contested in the 2018 harmonised elections in Chiredzi West against the incumbent Zanu PF’s Farai Musikavanhu, as an independent candidate.
Bhila refused to entertain questions when TellZim News sought him out for a comment on the leaked conversation.
The leaked conversation involves a member of the Central Intelligence Organisation (CIO) based in Chiredzi who also piled pressure on Gukwe, who at first tried to stand his ground but later on succumbed under political pressure.
Some names of government officials including cabinet ministers were thrown around to intimidate Gukwe who eventually buckled saying he would deal with the issue.
“I am saying withdraw that contract with immediate effect. That bus belongs to an MDC Alliance member. Ministers are coming here on the 23rd of April and the issue is going to be briefed to those ministers.
“The owner of the bus is the one who battled it out with Farai Musikavanhu in 2018 and Musikavanhu is saying he is going to complain about the issue when briefing the minister.
“Leave that case otherwise you will be in soup when it is discovered that you are giving money to an MDC member for his next campaign. You have to make your way out on this issue,” charged Bhila on one side of the conversation.
Gukwe tried to defend himself, saying the company does not look into people’s political backgrounds when giving tenders. He then tried to shift the blame to one of his colleague only identified as Zimunya.
“No, we did not even know that the omnibus belonged to an MDC Alliance member. We do not look into people’s political backgrounds when awarding tenders.
“We thought it was just another local business person. We are now following your decisions on the case because Dingane Ncube (CIO) once came to me with the issue and said he was going to advise me on how to handle the issue,” said Gukwe in his defence.
However, Bhila would have none of it, reiterating that a delegation of cabinet ministers and government officials which was in Chiredzi on April 23 would not take the matter lightly.
The cabinet delegation was led by Agriculture minister Dr Anxious Masuka.
“I am saying cancel that tender,” said Bhila before handing the phone to one Soul Nyangoni believed to be from the CIO.
Nyangoni said that someone was going to lose his job if they did not cancel the tender and strongly warned Gukwe to recuse himself.
“You just have to follow the advice you have been given by Bhila and we are managing the issue from our office. Zimunya is always crossing roads with us and he is about to lose his job now,” said Nyangoni.
TellZim News tracked the registered owner of the bus, Israel Muchini, who said he was shocked to hear that his tender has been revoked and his bus removed from the contracted list.
“I was surprised to be told that they are withdrawing my omnibus from the contract because it is owned by an MDC Alliance member. It is unfair. Why would they want to politicise everything? Tenders should be awarded in a non-partisan manner,” said Muchini.
The supposed owner of the bus, Manganye who is based in the United Kingdom, has been spear heading development in Chiredzi.
He once donated a UK make Mercedes Benz ambulance, water tanks and hospital beds at Chiredzi Poly Clinic which were officially commissioned by Minister of State for Masvingo Provincial Affairs and Devolution, Ezra Chadzamira.