LSU corruption scandal deepens as more rot exposed

More rot has been unearthed at Lupane State University (LSU) in Matabeleland North, as alleged fraudulent practices at the institution are exposed.

This comes after CITE exposed allegations of corruption levelled against the institution’s vice chancellor, Professor Pardon Kuipa, his assistant Julius Tapera, and Acting Procurement Manager Knowledge Muvirimi, who were said to be the three key players involved in a number of malpractices.

These malpractices include irregular tender awarding, and inflating invoices and bills in procurement services, particularly in regard to the institution’s farming projects.

No response has yet come through from the university concerning the allegations.

This time around concerns were raised on the farm shed and dip tank projects where funds meant for the construction of a dip tank were diverted to the procurement of tarquilin pond liners at an exorbitant price from a Harare-based company, Sahel Weatherproofing.

Sahel Weatherproofing was registered under the Construction Industry Federation of Zimbabwe (CIFOZ) as Class ‘C’ specialising in waterproofing, tanking and flooring.

It is also registered under Building and Maintenance with the Procurement Regulatory Authority of Zimbabwe (PRAZ) and promised the university a 10-year guarantee.

According to sources, the delivery costs for the tarquilin pond liners were inflated, as a further internal audit enquiry revealed four pond liners were possibly overpriced.

“The invoice used to pay showed that each pond liner cost US$1 675, whereas an invoice obtained by an audit from the same supplier showed that each cost US$890.”

The audit report said LSU could have been overcharged by US$3 140.

The invoice that the auditors requested has been made available to CITE.

In a memorandum dated August 9, 2022, to the acting procurement manager, the Acting director- Works and Estates, a J. Moyo requested that they “identify a contractor to repair the leaking roof at the server room and waterproofing of the ZINWA water tank (Storage Tank).”

According to receipts made available to this publication, Sahel Weatherproofing was paid ZWL$ 1,008,000 on  October 4, 2022.

The money was authorised by the vice chancellor, Prof. Kuipa, on September 6, 2022.

The company issued a proforma invoice on September 28, 2022, and the money was to be paid into its NMB Bank account.

The subtotal for tank waterproofing, concrete restoration, and crack sealing was ZWL$880 349, 34.

Value Added Tax was calculated at ZWL$127 650 66, bringing the total to ZWL$1 0008 000, which was a quote supplied to the institution in a letter dated August 15, 2022, by Sahel Weatherproofing.

On September 7, 2022, the university’s procurement management unit advised the vice chancellor to award the tender to Sahel Weatherproofing for the repair of the server room gutter as well as reservoir water tank proofing, concrete restoration, crack sealing, and ingress protection.

“The supplier has been recommended based on his previous work experience at the Lupane Bulawayo CBZ campus where he was contracted to do roof sealing,” read part of the letter.

The direct awarding of the tender was characterised as an urgent matter because “the tank needs to be commissioned by His Excellency, the president of the Second Republic of Zimbabwe on Graduation ceremony which is to be held in November 2022.”

“In light of the above background and consistent with section 33 of the Public Procurement And Disposal Of Public Assets Act (PPDPA) Act Subsection 2b […] we are recommending to use the direct procurement method,” said the letter in part.

Sahel Weatherproofing was said to require a prepayment of 80 percent before delivery.

The total cost of the tender was quoted at ZWL$6 846 927, 50.

The memorandum was signed and authorised by the vice-chancellor, which was questioned by the Bursar on October 4, 2022, and could have been a source of acrimony between the two as mentioned in the previous article.

Workers also raised questions at LSU’s Innovation and Industrialisation (Goat project), where Michiview Enterprises delivered or was to supply goats worth ZWL$6 775 000.

Prof Kuipa authorised the deal on August 2, 2022.

This was part of a dryland agro-innovation and industrialisation programme financed by the Ministry of Higher Education.

According to papers seen by CITE, LSU planned to purchase 800 chickens of various varieties and types, 200 guinea fowls, 1600 Matabele goats, and 400 specialised goats such as Boer goats and dairy goats under this initiative.

Michiview was to furnish 290 indigenous Matabeleland Does for ZWL$6 525 000 and 10 indigenous Matabeleland Bucks for ZWL$250 000, according to a proforma invoice dated February 8, 2022.

There were no charges for transportation of the goats to Lupane or documentation by the police or veterinary department, according to the invoice.

On February 9, 2022, the acting procurement manager -Murimi, wrote to the bursar asking for a prepayment to Michview Enterprises as “the supplier does not offer its sales on credit.”

In another memorandum on the same date, the acting procurement manager told the bursar that the direct purchase of Agri-Hub goats from Michview Enterprises had “been authorised by PMU under exceptionally advantageous conditions.”

“This procurement method has been used in compliance with statutory instrument number (S.33 and R16),” the memorandum read in part.

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