Mnangagwa pampers cronies with borehole drilling contracts

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Zanu-PF legislator and gold dealer Scott Sakupwanya’s firm Better Brands is one of the eight firms that was granted lucrative contracts to sink boreholes across the country under President Emmerson Mnangagwa’s programme targetting rural areas, the Zimbabwe Independent has learnt.

Another close Mnangagwa ally awarded the lucrative contract is Paul Tempter Tungwarara through his company, Prevail International.

In 2021, Mnangagwa launched the Presidential Rural Development Programme, a scheme earmarked to benefit 1,8 million households.

A running investigation by the Independent showed that two years after the scheme commenced, the Zimbabwe National Water Authority (Zinwa) has managed to drill 2 534 boreholes from a target of 35 000.

State-run Zinwa is implementing the programme.

The investigation intended to reveal the beneficial owners of firms awarded tenders to drill boreholes in Zimbabwe’s rural areas.

Apart from Sakupwanya’s Better Brands, other firms which were subcontracted to install boreholes by Zinwa include Skylakes, Venture Drilling and Exploration, Rockbuster, Jianxi International, Nakiso and Hofalox (Joint Venture) and Baba Drilling and Garron (trading as Aquamat Drilling).

At the time of going to print, this publication had not yet established some of the beneficial owners of the firms, including the shareholding structure of the entities.

Sakupwanya, who was recently elected Mabvuku House of Assembly representative did not responded to questions posed by the Independent.

Zinwa corporate communications and marketing manager Marjorie Manyonga told the Independent the sub-contracted firms were selected through the public tendering system and registers of beneficiaries were also available.

“All companies contracted by Zinwa are procured through the public tendering process. The eight companies contracted under the Presidential Rural Development Programme were procured through this process,” she said this week.g

“The Authority has the list of all boreholes drilled under the Presidential Rural Development Programme complete with names, locations, coordinates, yield, depth, soil type, and formation targets villages, communities, schools, and institutions.”

Manyonga had not disclosed the specific terms of the contract awarded to Sakupwanya’s Better Brands including how much it will be paid for its services and the number of boreholes it will drill.

She also did not disclose the total cost of the program and how much Zinwa has spent so far.

Apart from the Presidential Rural Development Programme, Zinwa also runs a commercial borehole drilling arm which drills for individuals for a fee.

Manyonga said: “Transactions are treated as purely commercial with the necessary confidentiality that comes with such.”

Under Zinwa’s charges, Manyonga said the average cost of drilling a 40-meter borehole can be a minimum of US$700.

“However, there are special cases such as mud drilling where the cost of drilling a borehole can be as high as US$ 12 000,” she said.

“The authority however has all the details for these boreholes for purposes of records and are subjected to Zinwa processes like audit.”

Relating to the progress of the Presidential Rural Development Program,118 village business units have so far been set up, from a target of 35 000.

These village business units will be registered as commercial entities through the Agriculture Rural Development Authority (Arda).

“Under the programme, Zinwa will drill and equip 35 000 boreholes which form the anchor component for the village business units whose components include a solar-powered borehole, fishponds, water storage tanks, a one-hectare drip-irrigated horticulture garden, and communal water points,” Manyonga said.

“Other agencies taking part in the programme are Arda, which assists with the management and registration of the village business units as formal companies, Agriculture Marketing Authority (Ama), which helps the village business units connect with the markets, and AFC Holdings (formerly Agri Bank). AFC Holdings will avail funding for the business ventures.

The subcontracted companies, under the scope of the tenders, will set up infrastructure to support the village business units.

“The scope of the work for the companies contracted under the Presidential Rural Development Programme also extended to the setting up of infrastructure for the establishment of village business units (VBUs) and such infrastructure typically includes a one-hectare drip irrigated horticulture garden, water storage tanks, two fishponds and communal water points.

“To speed up the implementation of the programme, the government procured borehole drilling rigs for Zinwa.”

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