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China still to release $72 million to Harare

By Helen Kadirire

Harare City Council is yet to receive the remaining $72 million from the $144 million China Exim bank loan that was supposed to be used towards rehabilitation of the city’s water infrastructure.

Harare mayor councillor Herbert Gomba
Harare mayor councillor Herbert Gomba

Mayor Herbert Gomba said they have engaged government on the matter but nothing has happened since December 2017. The loan which was taken out in 2013 was shrouded in controversy after top management at Town House bought themselves top-of-the-range vehicles with part of the money.

“Had that loan been fully disbursed and utilised for what it was supposed to have done, we would not be experiencing some of the problems. “There are so many areas that do not have access to water which could be in a better position had that loan been disbursed fully,” Gomba said.

“There are disagreements between our principles, that is, government of China and ours. I understand when the president went to China the last time, he negotiated with them to make sure that China releases the other $72 million, which is what we are still waiting for,” the mayor said.

He said with the old infrastructure council was burdened with providing water to satellite towns such as Norton Ruwa and Chitungwiza as well.

The mayor highlighted that for projects similar to the refurbishment of Morton Jaffray and Firle sewer treatment works, there needs a system that allows for reporting, verification and monitoring of transactions.

The $144 million loan has been a bone of contention with residents associations after an audit in 2014 revealed that part of the money was misappropriated and used to purchase top-of-the-range vehicles under the guise of “project cars”. Last year, Community Water Alliance and the Combined Harare Residents Association petitioned council demanding an update on the loan.

They requested that council should include the full details of how they will pay the loan in the report. The residents associations also requested to know how residents were supposed to repay the loan with $7 million bi-annual payments when the service they were receiving was of poor quality.

“The petitioners beseech the Harare City Council to present a report to stakeholders on the $144 million China loan. We demand an update on what money has been disbursed, what has been used for what, results of the loan in terms of water production output and the outcome and impact of the loan,” the petition said. DailyNews