CCC-run councils will ‘reject’ July Moyo’s fire trucks, party says

HARARE – The Citizens Coalition for Change which is the majority party in most urban councils says it is prepared to go to court to stop local government minister July Moyo forcing local authorities to buy fire tenders from Belarus at inflated prices.

In a shock directive this week, Moyo said the government had entered an agreement to buy fire trucks for US$464,296 each using local authorities’ devolution funds. The councils were not consulted, and available evidence suggests the fire tenders are overpriced by US$270,000.

Up to 70 fire engines are set to be purchased from a reseller company owned by President Emmerson Mnangagwa’s friend Alyaksandr Zingman, a Belarusian former arms dealer.

CCC local government spokesman and mayor of Harare Jacob Mafume said Moyo was in no position to impose on local authorities, especially when diverting devolution budgets.

“Councils across the country will meet and respond to the letter and will pass resolutions according to the needs of their residents. The minister of local government is not a super mayor with divine authority,” Mafume said.

“Our councils were not consulted. The essence of devolution is for local people to make their own decisions. Some councils can’t even manage a fire brigade! The money being spent on these fire tenders can build clinics, it’s astronomical.”

And speaking for Harare, Mafume said the council would “pass a resolution to reject this.”

“Our focus is refuse collection. This amount can purchase tipper trucks and compactors,” he told ZimLive.

In a letter to town clerks, secretaries and CEOs dated June 20, Moyo’s local government ministry said each “rural local authority” would get one fire engine while “urban local authorities” would get two and “metropolitan local authorities” are in line to get three each.

“Metropolitan authorities” refers to the major cities of Harare, Bulawayo, Mutare, Masvingo, Gweru, Kwekwe and Masvingo, which will be due three fire engines each at a cost of about US$2.8 million.

Urban local authorities, which includes towns like Victoria Falls, Beitbridge, Bindura, Gwanda, Marondera, Kadoma, Kariba, Redcliff, Chitungwiza, Chinhoyi, Zvishavane, Chegutu and Zvishavane would receive two fire engines each.

There are about 50 “rural local authorities”, each set to receive a fire tender at a total cost of over US$23 million. The order will top US$32 million for around 70 fire engines.

The fire engines marketed by Zingman’s AFTRADE DMCC are manufactured by Belarusian company, LLC Pozhsnab. The company does not list prices for the equipment on its website.

In 2020, Mongolia bought 71 fire tenders from Pozhsnab for €13.1 million (about US$13.8 million) – translating to about US$194,000 per unit. With the US$464,296 for each truck quoted by the local government ministry, municipalities will be paying US$270,000 more for each truck under Zingman’s deal which was not subjected to any tender.

Price inflation … Mongolia bought the same fire engines being supplied to Zimbabwe US$270,000 cheaper

“This is blatant corruption,” Norton MP Temba Mliswa said Tuesday. “The government set aside devolution funds for local authorities so that they can carry out projects that they want.

“As it stands, councils have priority projects that they want to carry out and they have since submitted these projects to the ministry of local government for approval. Now July Moyo comes up with his own projects and starts approving them for payment ahead of the projects submitted by councils, this at inflated prices without going to tender. Zimbabwe needs rescuing from this marauding criminal.”

Moyo’s latest directive comes after he foisted a €304,000,000 (US$320 million) waste-to-energy contract on the City of Harare with a company registered in the Netherlands, but with no history of undertaking similar projects. The company is owned by an Albanian businessman with links to President Mnangagwa’s twin son, Sean.

Anti-corruption watchdogs have sounded the alarm over the Zimbabwe government’s procurement systems allowing ministers to by-pass the open tendering system to benefit dubious companies owned by politically-linked individuals.

Harare residents have dragged Moyo to court after he pushed through the contract for a waste-to-energy project at the Pomona dumpsite. Geogenix BV is owned by Albanian Mirel Mertiri, who is under investigation in his own country for multi-million-dollar corruption involving an incinerator project.

Mertiri’s Zimbabwean partner is Dilesh Nguwaya, a controversial businessman with links to Mnangagwa’s twin sons Sean and Collins.

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