By Tererai Karimakwenda
SW Radio Africa
10 April 2014
The Harare City Council is facing fresh allegations of “overpricing” and corruption, in a deal that involved a $144 million loan from China to overhaul the decaying Morton Jaffray Waterworks pump station.
The allegations emanated from a report by Peter Morris, a consultant whose probe showed that “more than $100 million was being abused by officials on the project”, according to the Newsday newspaper. No other details were provided as to how the funds were being misused.
But the shadow Local Government Minister, Sesel Zvidzai, told SW Radio Africa that Morris is a renowned World Bank consultant whose report compared Harare Council’s “bills of quantities” to purchases of similar products made elsewhere, and found that only $44 million was needed for the Morton Jaffray project. This left a shocking $100 million unaccounted for.
Zvidzai said Mayor Bernard Manyenyemi and town clerk Tendai Mahachi had already been questioned about the “overpricing” by the Parliamentary Portfolio Committee on Water, and they promised a detailed report would follow. Further investigations are expected after that.
Newsday said the Environment Minister Saviour Kasukuwere visited the Waterworks project site Wednesday and praised the Chinese contractors for doing “a great job”. He went further to say Harare officials must explain any “anomalies” that are found in pricing the project.
Newsday also said Local Government Minister Ignatius Chombo distanced himself from the Chinese deal, but Zvidzai said he doubted very much that this was true because Chombo is “very hands on” when it comes to Harare and when it involves such a big contract.
“He knows so much detail that the joke is he wants to prescribe the number of sugars in the Mayor’s teacup. I am more than sure he would have intervened. If he did not know then something is wrong. He must be held accountable for dereliction of duty,” Zvidzai said.
The MDC-T shadow Minister called on Zimbabweans to demand that all those who are linked to corrupt practices be prosecuted, regardless of what political party they belong to.
Zvidzai said he feared that these corruption cases will just “fizzle away” without any action being taken, because the perpetrators are high-ranking officials with powerful connections.