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The Ministry of Youth, Indigenisation and Economic Empowerment engaged an event management company that is not registered with the State Procurement Board to do work for it on the proposed National Indigenisation Strategy, Parliamentarians heard yesterday.
The company – Triple Bottom Line (3BL) Consultancy – owned by Mrs Thandi Miranda (nee Ngwenya), went on to do work for the ministry without a contract until its proposed Memorandum of Understanding was thrown out by the Attorney-General’s Office.
In the draft MoU, the firm wanted to jointly manage events and projects on behalf of the ministry on a profit-sharing basis where it would get 10 percent while the Ministry of Youth, Indigenisation and Economic Empowerment took 90 percent of revenue generated.
Mrs Miranda, who is 3BL executive director, told the Parliamentary Portfolio Committee on Youth, Indigenisation and Economic Empowerment yesterday that their contact person at the ministry was Minister Patrick Zhuwao whom she knew beforehand.
Zanu-PF MP for Gokwe-Nembudziya, Cde Justice Mayor Wadyajena chairs the committee.
“When the minister was appointed by His Excellency, we then approached the honourable minister because we had an idea of how we could be able to assist the ministry to move forward in terms of economic empowerment projects,” said Mrs Miranda. We drafted a Memorandum of Understanding. The idea was that we as 3BL Consultancy would assist the ministry to come up with the National Economic Empowerment strategy whose implementation would be funded by some of the initiatives that we would take up.
“We were planning to go out into the market and be able to package the ideas and proposals from that strategy. We as 3BL would raise the money from private players through the networks that we have,” she said.
“And then from the money raised from private players, we would be able to retain 10 percent for finding the money and the rest we would give to the ministry. In other words we were proposing a working arrangement where we would not tap into public funds whatsoever.”
Mrs Miranda said they started doing work for the ministry between October and December last year while they waited for approval from the AG’s Office on the proposed MoU. MDC-T MP for Mkoba, Mr Amos Chibaya and Chitungwiza North MP, Mr Godfrey Sithole respectively, asked if the firm did work for free and what they stood to benefit.
Mrs Miranda said they managed and coordinated seven events for the ministry including the inaugural Economic Empowerment Conference at HICC, the Localised Economic Empowerment Fund (LEAF) launch at City Sports Centre, strategy workshops in Harare, Bulawayo, Masvingo, the Sstrategy workshop at NIEEB offices and the Economic Empowerment Conference at City Sports Centre. She said Minister Zhuwao approved all the work they did for the ministry valued at $28 000 but for which they did not charge the ministry.
This prompted Zanu-PF MP for Gutu North, Cde Ticharwa Madondo, to ask why they engaged Minister Zhuwao on administrative issues when his mandate was giving policy direction while the permanent secretary was the one responsible for administrative work.
Mrs Miranda said they intended to recoup their money in future projects if their partnership with the ministry was approved. Cde Wadyajena inquired if 3BL had a contract with the ministry and whether it was registered with the State Procurement Board while Zanu-PF MP for Goromonzi South, Cde Petronella Kagonye, asked if the firm was formally registered and why they were engaged by the ministry when they had no contract in place.
“I can confirm there is no signed contract between 3BL and the ministry. I can confirm again that there is no engagement contract with the ministry. There is nothing signed. We have done the work at our own risk. We are not yet registered with the State Procurement Board,” said Mrs Miranda.
Cde Madondo interjected questioning how the ministry allowed the firm to do work on its behalf when it was not registered with the SPB, to which Mrs Miranda said it was probably the reason their MoU was thrown own by the AG’s Office.
Mrs Miranda said they did not receive money from any Government Ministry or department for all the work they did except from delegates who attended the private events that they organised. She added her firm did not have indigenisation experts, as such banked on the Ministry and officials from other departments such as the National Indigenisation and Economic Empowerment Board as well as some from the private sector.
But Cde Wadyajena asked why in their advert for indigenisation clinics they presented themselves as experts, to which Mrs Miranda said: “As 3BL we are not indigenisation experts.”
Mrs Miranda also brought some documents of data on the work that their firm in partnership with the ministry did but was in possession of the ministry. This prompted MPs to ask how they got access to the documents when they were not formally engaged by the ministry.
Said Cde Kagonye: “This is Government data that you are in possession of yet you don’t have any contract with Government.
“Someone cannot just come from anywhere and get an official Government report and start using it whether for data collection or analysis.
“I am trying to understand because you don’t have any agreement to work with the ministry. You are not even registered to work with Government because you are not registered with the SPB. You don’t even have a vendor number for Government.
“There is nothing really to give you the right to work with Government yet you have done all this work. So we want you to clarify what was happening and over what period.”
Mrs Miranda said she asked for the documents from Minister Zhuwao on condition that she would return them after appearing before Parliament.
She said all the work was done “in rapid manner over a period of six weeks”.
Cde Wadyajena also asked Mrs Miranda to respond to allegations by former chairperson of a steering committee on the Zimbabwe Youth Empowerment Strategy for Investment and Zanu-PF Youth activist, Cde Acie Lumumba, that she worked on cahoots with Minister Zhuwao to fleece companies of their money through indigenisation workshops.
But Mrs Miranda dismissed the allegations, saying it was unfortunate that she was caught in the fight between Minister Zhuwao and Cde Lumumba.
She said she did not take money from any companies except those that paid delegate fees to attend workshops. Lloyd Gumbo source-herald