A turf war has erupted at the Ministry of Industry and Commerce pitting Minister Sekai Nzenza and top directors over the issuing of supply tenders without following procedure and continued disbursement of funds to private institutions without proper checks.
Business Times heard this week the war started when Nzenza tried to bring changes in the way things must be done at the Ministry following her appointment in November last year.
The measures included the need for a clear oversight on how suppliers were awarded tenders.
Information at hand points that top directors at the ministry have been contracting various suppliers on goods that were never supplied but invoices were issued and paid.
A case in point was the supply of boardroom furniture at the ministry in which a supplier was given a contract in December last year but no delivery has been made to date despite payments having been made.
This has seen ministry officials holding meetings in the Ministry of Mines and Mining Development boardroom.
This prompted Nzenza to question the lack of zeal on the part of her ministry’s directors and the accounting officer to provide necessary office equipment.
“There is a cold war at the Ministry of Industry and the issue started when the Minister questioned why meetings continue to be hosted at another Ministry due to lack of office furniture.
The Minister was however, informed that a contract was awarded to a certain contractor who was paid but failed to deliver,” a source said.
“The supply tender did not go through proper tender procedures and issues were raised that some directors at the ministry were actually involved.
This prompted the Minister to institute an inquiry which has ruffled the feathers of some top officials at the Ministry.”
But the directors hit back and reported Nzenza to the President’s Department for further investigations saying she is not a team player.
The directors are alleged to have tried to influence organisations like Confederation of Zimbabwe Industries, ZimTrade and Zimbabwe National Chamber of Commerce to gang up against Nzenza.
“The other fight at the ministry has mainly been administrative and maybe it has generally been a case of women failing to work together.
The fight has reached levels where even the recharging of the minister’s mobile phone and subscription of her office television set has been a hustle.
The directors have always raised the issue of lack of foreign currency,” said the source.
Efforts to get a comment from Nzenza were fruitless as her phone went unanswered.
There are several deals that are alleged to involve the ministry directors which were scuttled following the appointment of Nzenza in November last year.
The deals were suspicious with an example being the continued disbursement of funds to the Standards Association of Zimbabwe (SAZ) by the government through the ministry without justification.
Business Times heard that SAZ recently requested ZWL$9m from the government but Nzenza demanded a detailed report for the past three years on how the funds disbursed to SAZ were utilised.
“To date the requested report has not been made and the process has been frustrated by some officials in the ministry. “There has been a spotlight around how the funds being disbursed to SAZ were being utilised. For years there have not been checks around disbursement of funds to SAZ,” the source added.
Contacted for comment, SAZ director-general Eve Gadzikwa said: “I am currently in a meeting. Please contact the permanent secretary or minister.”
This is not the first time that Nzenza has had battles with ministry officials. The former Public Service, Labour, and Social Welfare minister once had a rift with the ministry’s permanent secretary Judith Kateera over the running of the ministry and parastatals under its wings .
Nzenza at one time called for a meeting where she gave an order for all departmental heads to directly report to her in a clear sign of a strained relationship with her former permanent secretary. Business Times