Guilty as charged – Powertel violated tender procedures in prepaid electricity deal

Nigel Gambanga Avatar
ZESA, ZETDC, Powertel

Powertel, the state-owned internet access provider and subsidiary of national power utility firm ZESA Holdings, has reportedly been found guilty of failing to follow proper tender procedures when it appointed local software development outfit E-solutions, as the aggregators of the sale of prepaid electricity.

According to a report in the Chronicle, in 2013, Powertel flighted the tender for the prepaid electricity token aggregators for seven days instead of the requisite thirty days.

It is further reported that there was an outcry over E-Solutions’ appointment because the software development unit wasn’t fully prepared, which was apparently evidenced by the system’s constant breakdowns.

Following a directive to appoint Powertel as the sole provider of prepaid electricity tokens which was effected by Dzikamai Mavhaire, the then Minister of Energy, some bidders felt that the process at arriving at that decision had been unprocedural, especially considering how Powertel and E-solutions had been disqualified for not having the right technical capacity.

The Chronicle has gone on quote a letter from the State Procurement Board, addressed to Powertel’s managing director, Samuel Maminimini, which states the SPB’s resolution that Powertel should pay an administration fee of $900 for failure to follow proper tender procedures.

It hasn’t been confirmed yet whether this development will result in the flighting of a new tender, or open up the provision of prepaid electricity to other companies.

We are yet to receive an official comment from Powertel regarding this story and the implications of this development. 


  1. Chizhara

    Nigel, your allegations are not only pregnant with malicious intent but also baseless. If you are trying to build a name for yourself in the media fraternity based on unfounded lies then this may just be the last stone into your grave.

    1. LeeTendai

      Maybe you can correct him on were he went wrong we would love to here the ‘truthful’ version

    2. Nigel Gambanga

      @Chizhara lol don’t be such a drama queen.

      1. Chizhara

        Your article is NOT about the transparency but hidden agenda which you have unknowingly revealed… Just look at your conclusion so that your intentions become clear “It hasn’t been confirmed yet whether this development will result in the flighting of a new tender, or open up the provision of prepaid electricity to other companies”…. 1ST There is no development to talk about since you even indicate SPB knows and resolved the issue through the alleged fine…. 2nd….You are assuming that suppose the alleged development exists, then there will be 2 options being pushed by your interested party..

  2. ll

    Investigate Telone too the send us tender document for their customer app 4 days before the closing date which was yesterday.

  3. Hyperbole on a tired Story

    Nigel doesn’t only cut and paste story from Chronicle, he spins it.
    1. PowerTel is not guilty of giving the tender to eSolutions. The Chronicle tender clearly says the offense is for not advertising the tender over 30 days.
    2. The aggregator is PowerTel and NOT e-Solutions.
    3. The person who planted the article in the Chronicle is one of the people that tendered for the PowerTel tender, and lost. Why did they put in a bid if they had issues with the fact that the tender was not open for 30 days. Why didn’t they even request an extension. The most likely reason is that their PowerTel bid was half hearted as they were putting in bids at ZETDC, to compete with PowerTel. One can understand how that they leaned more on the ZETDC bid.
    4. eSolutions is a team of the best IT minds in Zimbabwe. The developers that built the system are part of us. We were with them in local universities, doing CS. We are proud of them. They represent!
    5. In contrast, most of the losing bidders are non IT professionals. Some are just IT hobbyists, used car salesman, who wait to track tenders and scouring around the world: in India, South Africa; looking for foreign solutions, in the process exporting development jobs. What are Zimbabwean developers supposed to do Nigel?

    6. The PowerTel platform has basically created an industry platform and we are all being convinienced in the accessing of prepaid electricity. The more the system delivers, the more the haters are infuriated. I wonder if they still travel to ZETDC banking halls to buy electricity tokens, just to save themselves from infuriating themselves. Lol.

    Well. This was too long. Didn’t have time to make it shorter.

    1. Silas

      You are an interested part, so even if your points are valid “the part of us” part spoiled everything. Who told you that you are good?

    2. Nigel Gambanga


      Thanks for the clarification and insight there. You’re right, some things get lost in translation, especially when you don’t cut and paste stories.
      -You mentioned that the story in the Chronicle was planted and it appears you know who did it. Care to share information with the rest of us on that as well? After all, we should be transparent about these things.
      -I’m impressed by the way you defend your team at E-Solutions and I have no doubt that you will always have nothing but high praise for them. However, it would be worth remembering that this article and the one from the Chronicle are not the first to mention the E-Solutions’ name regarding its capacity to deliver a functional system for Powertel. You know that, as much as everyone else who has been following this tired story. My article merely echoed that perspective, and I expressly did not offer my opinion on the efficiency of the system. I shan’t speak on behalf of the Chronicle or Zimpapers, but had I been reviewing the system, I’m sure you would have noticed.
      -I’m glad when Zimbabwean developers give government tenders a shot. That’s an opportunity for them to use their skills and we can have local solutions for nationally significant projects. However, all of this is wonderful only if the process is carried out transparently, which leaves room for growth in local technology. This tired story has been dragged on because something was amiss in the tender process, which is why this is now in the public domain.
      -I can’t speak to the level of experience that the losing bidders had, or their modus operandi when it comes to offering solutions.
      -The Powertel platform has managed to add convenience to Zimbabwean prepaid electricity, hear hear!
      But my article isn’t about the CONVENIENCE of the platform, it’s about the transparency in the tender process. Powertel is facing that music, and not being questioned on how effective the solution is so far.

      1. Chizhara

        Nigel: Your article is NOT about the transparency. Just look at your conclusion so that your intentions become clear “It hasn’t been confirmed yet whether this development will result in the flighting of a new tender, or open up the provision of prepaid electricity to other companies”…. 1ST There is no development to talk about…. 2….You are assuming that suppose there is the alleged development, the there will be 2 options being pushed by your interested party..

    3. Rr

      Do you work for e solution cz winning a tender in 7 days and elbowing out competent companies is wrong and ends up casting doubt on your compentance.
      Pretty sure that there were some other guys who are as skilled as esoulutions and ps bae is a companythat makes guns bt has some of the vest secutity solutions in the world.
      Plus didnt it take esolutions over 2 years to get the system to sort of breakdown less so 24 months later here we stand with a mickey mouse vending solution

  4. Silas

    Whether the story was copied and pasted to me I really don’t care as I don’t regularly follow it! So thank you for copying and pasting it here

  5. Sifiso

    These guys know nothing, hahaha

    1. Gibba


  6. Techie

    Competent solution my foot. That system has to be the worst ever built in Zimbabwe let alone the world. Good luck trying to buy from any vendor besides ZESA during the weekend. In fact I am sure you are conveniently ignoring the issue of the data loss that occurred a while back and the fact that the vendor account reconciliations have never balanced after 24 months of system use.

    Give us a break guys. We are tired of incompetent people masquerading as professionals. If you want to check the efficacy of the system ask the actual user and not some high held beliefs in your own abilities. They were doing CS at some local university – how is that even relevant. We dont care if you went to St Nyoka or some obscure PHD granting university half way across the world – just give us things that work. Software development is not even rocket science.

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