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Russian locomotives deal adds fuel to DIDG/Transnet dispute with Zim Government. In comes Diaspora Business Foundation

Signing the $400m NRZ/Transnet deal in Bulawayo two years ago. The deal is now a source of conflict as government announced last week that the deal had been scrapped.

 

Zimbabwe Digital News

 

The Diaspora Business Federation has slammed Zimbabwe’s Transport Minister Biggie Matiza over the abrupt handling of communication in which the $400m NRZ/Transnet deal cancellation was announced by Information Permanent Secretary Nick Mangwana.

This as reports emerged Monday that a new $600m deal was reached in Sochi, Russia this week where President Mnangagwa attended the Russia-Africa Summit.

DBF released a statement saying government had botched the communication protocol by sending out Mr Mangwana to release a public statement scraping the Transnet deal, while no official communication has been relayed to the Diaspora Infrastructure Development Group, the strategic partners.

Russia locomotive deal

Information circulated Monday that the NRZ had engaged a Russian company, Uniwagon, for the supply of wagons and locomotives, a deal that is likely to cost more than the DIDG contract.

This amid reports of tensions in government that Transport Minister Matiza did not consult his principals and DIDG, and the President – despite the deal having undergone a publicised tender process.

Speaking from Cape Town, DBF Chairman, Terry Mhungu said: “This is absolutely shocking, unexpected, worrying and begs us to re-look at our underlying beliefs that the diaspora is welcome back in Zimbabwe.

“How is it possible that after the President’s State of the Nation Address (SONA) confirming Zim government support, two days later the Permanent Secretary for Information, Publicity & Broadcasting pronounces on public media, and on the state broadcaster the opposite. Something is amiss here”.

The Diaspora Business Federation led by Chairman Mhungu recently hosted President Mnangagwa and Ministers Mthuli Ncube, Rtd Lt General SB Moyo, Fortune Chasi, Minister Matiza, Reserve Bank Governor JP Mangudya and Ambassador David Hamadziripi in Cape Town on the side-lines of the World Economic Forum.

More than Zim/SA 60 business diasporas pledged to help drive investment into Zimbabwe, with emphasis on harnessing the Zim diaspora coming up with unique funding models.

It is understood that the President is supportive of the DIDG transaction as it dovetails with his infrastructure development plan.

Interference, and deliberate attempts at sabotage

“As the Zim diaspora we have worked hard to be where we are with the DIDG, and we have campaigned for the US$400m NRZ Recapitalisation Project. There is substance in that project and the funding model fitted perfectly with what Government is doing to bring diaspora investment into Zimbabwe. Every diaspora(n) is now asking, if such can happen to DIDG, how else would the Government prove sincerity,” queried Mr Mhungu.

He added: “We are extremely concerned as we watch the project being marred by interference, and deliberate attempts at sabotage. This interference has reached a point where news is awash in all media platforms across the world to the effect that the award to DIDG Consortium has been unceremoniously and unilaterally cancelled by the Transport Minister, who is now personally publicly soliciting for other bidders even after the President’s State of the Nation Address (SONA) confirmed the project was proceeding with DIDG.”

Mr Mhungu urged the authorities in Harare to impress upon Government’s rank and file not to issue conflicting statements in relation to this investment initiative by Diaspora as this is harming the image of Government abroad and its “Open for Business” mantra.

DIDG legal action looming

DIDG insiders said the company is still exploring all available options to bring the deal back on the rail.

Reports, according to the Zim Morning Post newspaper, say the Uniwagon deal is now expected to cost government an extra US$600 million, details which sources say had ruffled President Mnangagwa.

“The (Uniwagon) deal is going to bring in 5 000 wagons at US$100 000 each and 67 locomotives at US$3 million each, with the total investment capping US$701 million,” a source within the National Railways of Zimbabwe told the Post.

The total cost of the Uniwagon deal, inclusive of the US$300 million for track rehabilitation, will now bring the government bill to a whooping US$1 billion.

The Uniwagon-NRZ deal is expected take off in January 2020, with delivery of the first 100 prototype wagons, despite DIDG having put everything in place and was raring to go.

DIDG is reportedly considering a lawsuit against the government for loss of contract, something which would have been avoided if Matiza had played by the book.

 

New cabinet in place, full steam ahead for Transnet/DIDG project

 

The Diaspora Business Federation led by Chairman Mhungu recently hosted President Mnangagwa and several government ministers at the World Economic Forum.

 

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