US$40 million saga takes new twist: ZEC and Chigumba in trouble over 2023 elections procurement deals


The Zimbabwe Electoral Commission (ZEC) has come under scrutiny and mounting pressure to reveal the procurement details of the voting material used in the 2023 elections. The demand for transparency follows concerns that the commission may have been involved in illicit activities, potentially resulting in the externalization of millions of dollars.

Prominent human rights defender Tapiwa Chiriga has spearheaded the call for information disclosure, raising questions about ZEC’s alleged involvement in fraudulent practices and abuse of power. The spotlight has been cast on Zanu PF Parliamentarian Scott Sakupwanya, Wicknell Chivayo, Mike Chimombe, Moses Mpofu, and ZEC Chairperson Priscilla Chigumba.

The controversy unfolded when it was revealed that over US$40 million was paid to Chivayo in a suspicious deal characterized by exorbitantly priced substandard goods and a lack of due diligence on the part of ZEC. The expose shed light on Chigumba’s role in the affair, as it emerged that she had traveled to South Africa alongside Chivayo, Chimombe, and Mpofu to meet with Ren-Form executives prior to finalizing the tender. Additional meetings between the quartet were held in Harare, as reported by The NewsHawks, the publication that broke the story.

Ren-Form, a South African company specializing in the supply of election materials in Sub-Saharan Africa, has become a focal point of the investigation. ZEC swiftly responded to the leaked information, vehemently denying any involvement in third-party procurement and insisting that only a fraction of the reported amount, just over US$21 million, was spent on the actual voting material.

In an official statement, ZEC sought to address the growing concerns: “We have noted with great concern social media posts and rumors circulating online that are causing public alarm and despondency… We challenge all those alleging that the commission has a contract with the three individuals to come forward and present the same.”

However, Tapiwa Chiriga, invoking the Freedom of Information Act and the Public Procurement and Disposal of Public Assets Act, has formally requested that ZEC publicly disclose the details of its procurement processes leading up to the 2023 general elections. Chiriga’s letter, delivered to ZEC on July 2, specifically demands information regarding the bidding process, publication notices, records of procurement proceedings, contract awards, and sub-contracting approvals.

The request by Chiriga underscores the need for transparency and accountability in Zimbabwe’s electoral processes. Citizens have a right to access information pertaining to the procurement of voting material, ensuring that the procedures were conducted fairly and in compliance with legal regulations.

The issue has gained further traction due to the involvement of President Emmerson Mnangagwa’s office in making staggered payments related to the procurement. The revelation has led to speculation and raised eyebrows regarding the potential influence and interests surrounding the entire affair. Mnangagwa’s daughter, Chido, has also been implicated in the controversy, adding another layer of complexity to the unfolding narrative.

As authorities grapple with this high-stakes situation, questions remain unanswered. Scott Sakupwanya, whose company Better Brands Security was allegedly used as a vehicle in the deal, is yet to be questioned by law enforcement, while Wicknell Chivayo has taken to social media to flaunt his apparent freedom. Chivayo recently made headlines when an audio recording surfaced in which he claimed to have influential connections, even insinuating a close relationship with President Mnangagwa.

The arrest and detention of Mike Chimombe and Moses Mpofu on an unrelated US$80 million fraud case further deepens the intrigue surrounding the entire affair. The ongoing investigations will undoubtedly shed more light on the interconnected web of corruption allegations and their potential impact on the country’s electoral integrity.

The demand for ZEC to disclose the procurement details for the 2023 voting material reflects a pressing need for transparency, accountability, and the restoration of public trust.

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