‘We are in dire need of ambulances not fire tenders’ – Mafume tells July Moyo
The City of Harare has made it clear to Local Government Minister July Moyo that their priority is to buy ambulances instead of fire tenders.
Moyo wrote to local authorities recently indicating that the government would divert part of the devolution funds, US$55 million, to buying fire trucks from Belarus for 89 councils in a deal that raises suspicions of irregularities and corruption.
Government allegedly without consulting the councils, entered into the deal with President Emmerson Mnangagwa’s Belarusian crony Alexander Zingman, who runs Aftrade DMCC without going to tender.
Each fire tender is purchased at a value of US$464 296, translating to US$55 million for 89 local authorities specified with suspicion that the price has been inflated.
Addressing journalists in Harare on Wednesday, Harare Mayor Jacob Mafume maintained that Harare’s priority was to buy ambulances instead of fire tenders.
“We have fire tenders that we have got. If they needed to get fire tenders for us, they should have certainly consulted the council. We would have put the resolutions and directed the council to get tenders that are cheaper,” he said.
“What we are in dire need as a council and what we are going to use our devolution funds is ambulances. Our fire and rescue department does not have functioning ambulances.
“We needed a complement of at least 20 ambulances to respond to the emergencies that occur in Harare. They must allow local authorities to determine their priorities.”
Mafume further stated the fire tenders were misplaced priorities and their prices were inflated.
“How do you buy a fire tender for Mwenezi where the only valuable building is a toto factory? A factory that makes mukumbi. And you buy a US$500 000 fire tender,” the opposition Citizens Coalition for Change (CCC) senior official said.
“How do you buy a fire tender for some rural district council where it is cheaper to allow a hut to burn out than to race a fire tender towards that hut? I can’t understand the logic of some of these processes.
“That is why there is devolution in the Constitution so that people can determine their own priorities. We can’t have a situation where priorities are determined elsewhere but we bother to have elections and then one office, one minister decides how people should use their devolution funds.”
The Ministry of Local Government is already under fire from Parliament for disbursing devolution funds without an Act of Parliament.