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Bulawayo City rejects July Moyo’s US$55 million fire tender directive

The Bulawayo City Council (BCC) has made it clear that they are not in support of Local Government minister July Moyo’s directive for the council to divert devolution funds to acquire fire tenders from Belarus.

Moyo is diverting more than US$55 million of devolution funds to buying fire trucks for 89 councils allegedly at an inflated cost from President Emmerson Mnangagwa’s Belarusian crony Alexander Zingman, who runs Aftrade DMCC.

The multimillion dollar deal was reached allegedly 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.

Moyo directed that 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.

But on behalf of Bulawayo councillors, deputy mayor Mlandu Ncube told a full council meeting on Wednesday that the fire tenders were not their priority.

“Our fire and ambulance is not bad and we still have fire tenders and ambulances,” he said.

“Where we have a problem is vehicles for road maintenance, vehicles to attend to sewage bursts, grave digging and refuse collection. We were shocked to hear that some are directing that we have to purchase fire tenders.

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“As a city, we have a big problem with service delivery trucks and what will it help buying fire tenders when they won’t be able to traffic our roads due to their poor state? Refuse will be all over the place making it hard for our fire trucks to travel to attend to fires.

“The talk for us to buy three fire tenders must end on social media and not come here.”

Ncube, the councillor for Ward 1, said “residents have sent me to say no to it.”

“They say they want refuse collected on time, graders, tippers and water bowsers.”

Makokoba councillor Edwin Ndlovu said: “Central government must not budget for us and spell out how we use our money. The move defeats the whole purpose of devolution.

“If there is a need for fire tenders, it us as a council who must priorities it and when a need arises for us to request the government to assist us by sourcing cheap fire tenders it must be us as a council approaching the central government and not the other way round.

“We don’t want another Pomona in Bulawayo. It’s us who must look for tenders and if what the government is providing is the cheapest, then we will go for it provided it is our priority.”

Councillor Ernest Rafa Moyo added; “We had a tour of the fire brigade department two days ago and our tenders are okay and they are working.”

The City of Harare has since made it clear that they will oppose Moyo on the matter.