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July Moyo in US$55m fire trucks scandal, diverts devolution funds

Local Government Minister July Moyo is diverting more than US$55 million of devolution funds to buying fire trucks from Belarus for 89 councils allegedly at an inflated cost in more “rampant corruption”.

President Emmerson Mnangagwa’s Belarusian crony Alexander Zingman, who runs Aftrade DMCC was awarded the multimillion dollar deal without going to tender.

According to a memo in the Local Government Ministry, the cost of each fire tender is US$464 296, translating to US$55 million for 89 local authorities specified.

“In a bid to alleviate capital equipment shortages in Local Authorities, the Government of Zimbabwe will procure fire tenders from Belarus on a Government to Government agreement.

“Each Rural Local Authority will get one fire tender, Urban Local Authorities will get two and a Metropolitan Local Authority will get three fire tenders.

“The funds to procure the equipment will be deducted from the 2022 Devolution Allocations and will be done over a period of twelve months starting March 2022. The cost of each fire tender is US$ 464 296.

“It is therefore advisable for Local Authorities to reprioritise the Devolution Funds to accommodate the cost of the fire tenders,” read the memo dated June 14.

The deal is raising suspicions partly because, 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.

Accordingly, with the US$464,296 for each truck quoted by Moyo’s local government ministry, Zimbabwe would be paying US$270,000 more for each truck under Zingman’s deal.

Finance and Economic Development Minister Mthuli Ncube last year doubled the financial allocation towards the devolution programme and set aside ZWL42,5 billion (US$388 888 889 according to the official rate of the time) for 2022, up from ZWL19,5 billion that was set aside for 2021.

Moyo, however, is under-fire from the public, accused of disbursing devolution funds without the Parliament Act that must stipulate the allocation plan.

Allegations are that the deal did not go to tender, local authorities were not consulted and Parliament did not know about it.

Harare Mayor Jacob Mafume said the councils were not consulted.

“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 Cost can build clinics and is astronomical.

“Councils across the country will meet and respond to the letter and will pass resolutions according to the needs of the local residents and after consultation with the citizens/residents. The minister of local government is not a super Mayor with divine authority,” he said.

In Parliament recently Harare East MP Tendai Biti asked Local Government Deputy Minister Marian Chombo how the government was disbursing devolution funds without any legal framework supporting.

“Madam Speaker Ma’am, the disbursement of devolution funds provided by Section 301 presupposes the existence of an Act of Parliament – that Act of Parliament is not there. How are they distributing devolution funds when that Act of Parliament is not there?”

In response, Chombo admitted the anomaly saying the Ministry was working on a Bill to regularise the way ZWL42,5 billion devolution funds were being distributed.

“Thank you Hon. Speaker and thank you very much Hon. Biti for those questions. Definitely, we have been working on the Bill. We do not control the pace; it has to go back and forth. We are very sincere in whatever we do.

“Of course, there is not yet an Act to disburse the funds but given the situation, these councillors were elected in the last election – they are there. So we are using them to disburse the funds but I hear you that there is no Instrument in place but we had to weigh the options.

“Do we just keep the money and not develop the communities until that legal Instrument is in place? For sure, the Attorney-General as I said is seized with that Bill, and it is coming to Parliament very soon,” she said.

Moyo is embroiled in yet another scandal after being at the centre when City of Harare (COH) gave Pomona dumpsite for free to a company linked to dodgy businessman Delish Nguwaya and shadowy company Geogenix B.V.

The US$344 million contract was forwarded without going to tender. The company is expected to turn waste into energy. COH is shockingly paying US$22 000 per day.

Moyo is accused of misleading Mnangagwa’s cabinet into awarding the multimillion dollar Waste to Energy tender to “his cronies” that include Mnangagwa’s son Collins.

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