Univern Enterprises

From Pindula

Univern Enterprises is a Zimbabwean-registered firm, which sometimes trades as Southern Region Trading Company (SRTC). The company supplies IT systems, vehicles and other things mostly to the Ministry of Transport. It has been involved in a number of controversies regarding tenders it won from the Zimbabwean government.

Univern Ownership

In 2016, the company’s directors are listed as Laurence Neil and Sherice Sher, who had been directors since inception in 1996, as well as Musekiwa Kumbula (since 2005). Company chief executive, Serge Levy, was appointed director in 2014. Although often reported, Levy is not related to the late Sam Levy.[1]

Kumbula, who has previously worked as a communications consultant for ZANU-PF and featured prominently during the 2000 elections, has strong ties to former ZANU-PF senior official Ray Kaukonde, a top ally of former Vice President Joice Mujuru.[1]

Tenders & Controversies

  • Univern was contracted by the Central Vehicle Registry (CVR) to supply of number plates introduced in March 2005. In terms of the number plate deal, CVR, through the number plate fund, contributes 60 percent of the raw material purchase price, with SRTC weighing in with the balance and having full custody of the material.
  • Univern won a 2012 tender to supply 40 motorised graders worth $8 million to the Zimbabwe National Roads Authority (Zinara). The rural district councils who got the equipment protested that they were ‘snow graders’ not fit for purpose. Zinara however went and procured a further 40 graders through Univern for another $8 million. The second time without going to tender. Zinara justified not going to tender saying the second purchase “used the results of the first tender and Zinara merely had to rise on the first tender.”[1]
  • In 2013 Univern/SRTC won a deal with Zinara to supply vehicle licencing software valued at $54 million. The deal was won without going through tender. According to the AG, the cost of the software was not stated upfront. According to the deal Univern would be paid 18.5% of total revenue collected through the system for 10 years. By December 2013, Univern had been paid almost 40 percent of the software cost, getting $21 million as commission, with nine more years to go. In 2016 Zinara said it expected vehicle licence revenue to reach $200 million, from which Univern would get $37 million. Zinara management made an undertaking to the AG to negotiate with Univern for the reduction of the commission percentage, with a committee having been set to pursue this task.[1]
  • Univern is a partner of Zinara in the administration of about 20 toll gates. It won this contract without going through tender.[1]
  • In January 2016, transport minister Gumbo voiced concern over Univern saying ‘Government is gravely concerned at the intricate contractual relationship that now exists between Zinara and Univern,”[1]
  • In 2017, Univern supplied the Zimbabwe Republic Police with a electronic traffic management system. It's not clear if this contract went to tender. [2]

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References

  1. 1.0 1.1 1.2 1.3 1.4 1.5 Zim govt robs motorists to keep broke AirZim afloat, serial contractor profits, The Source, Published:15 July 2016, Retrieved:4 April 2017
  2. Govt rolls out electronic traffic management system, ZBC, Published: 10 March 2017, Retrieved: 04 April 2017