By Francis Mwinde
The Zimbabwe Anti-Corruption Commission (Zacc) has opened investigations into alleged rampant looting at the troubled Hwange Colliery Company Limited (HCCL) amid reports that investigators are zeroing in on four of the giant coal miner’s suppliers.
HCCL insiders said Zacc last week deployed three investigators to the colliery in Matabeleland North.
The investigators are said to be trying to piece together how millions of dollars could have been siphoned out of the company through elaborate schemes disguised as social responsibility programmes by HCCL .
“Their main area of focus was on why there was preferential treatment in terms of payments to four companies as well as the procurement procedures,” said an HCCL manager, who did not want to be identified for fear of victimisation.
The companies that the Zacc investigator showed special interest in are Philcool Investments (Pvt) Limited, Avim Investments (Pvt) Limited, Inductoserve and Turbo Mining.
A forensic audit conducted by Ralph Bomment Greenacre and Reynolds early this year identified the firms among the favoured in terms of payments.
All the four companies were implicated in a forensic audit conducted by Ralph Bomment Greenacre and Reynolds early this year.
Philcool and Avim Investments are fronted by Kwekwe-based businessman Shepherd Tundiya whose alleged underhand deals with HCCL were flagged in the audit report.
Another company which is under Zacc’s radar is Turbo Mining, which allegedly sold Hwange antiquated equipment worth about US$2 million yet its value was pegged at US$800 000.
“Zacc officials also wanted to establish how funds were being paid to some named journalists as corporate social responsibility initiatives, when in fact they were bribes,” said the manager.
“Very soon we might see some arrests being made because of some documentation they requested.”
Zacc spokesperson John Makamure on Friday confirmed that investigations into alleged corruption at the colliery were underway, but refused to divulge further details.
“Yes we are investigating suspected cases of corruption pertaining to Hwange. I cannot divulge details,” he said.
In October last year, the government placed HCCL under administration due to mounting operational challenges.
BDF Capital founder Bekithemba Moyo was appointed administrator for the struggling miner.
At the time the HCCL had a legacy debt of US$352 million and had entered into a scheme with creditors, who included its employees.
Colliery workers had gone for a number of years without getting their salaries amid allegations that political interference was largely responsible for the company’s collapse.