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ZINARA accuses Harare City of failing to account for millions in road funds

The Zimbabwe National Roads Administration (ZINARA) has clapped back at Harare City Mayor Jacob Mafume accusing his council and the local authority of grandstanding and issuing inaccurate figures on road funds.

Mafume said the transfer of the vehicle licensing portfolio to the government entity thwarted the local authority’s efforts to take care of its road infrastructure.

“That is when the problems of failure to repair and maintain roads and the attendant infrastructure began and the results are visible on the ground for all to see,” Mafume said.

Nkosinathi Ncube Chief Executive Officer of ZINARA responded to Mafume’s statement blaming the roads administrator for short-changing council on road maintenance funds.

In his statement, the ZINARA CEO said: “Whilst we don’t want to respond to rhetoric, we feel duty bound to inform the nation with facts on certain inaccuracies.

“Firstly, we want to categorically state that, ZINARA has consistently disbursed funds for road rehabilitation and maintenance to all the Road Authorities, City of Harare included.

“According to the dictates of the Roads Act, a Road Authority can only access a new disbursement from Zinara after acquitting its previous disbursement,” he said.

He added that City of Harare was allocated ZWL86 million in 2020 but the local authority failed to utilise the funds including that of 2022 fourth quarter disbursement.

“It could be translated using the prevailing exchange rate at the time and ZINARA disbursed 100 percent of that amount and the city of Harare failed to acquit their last disbursement.

“As a result, they failed to access an early disbursement in 2021. The City of Harare’s allocation for 2021 was 1, 3 billion which again can be translated to USD using the exchange rate at the time.

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“However, the City of Harare only requested ZWL154 million of this total allocation and failed to utilise in excess of ZWL1, 1 billion.

“In 2022, they are yet to acquit their fourth quarter disbursement of ZWL566 million despite the fact that most Road Authorities have already acquitted their 2022 disbursements.

“This means that even if funds were to be disbursed today as per the ZINARA schedule for 2023, Harare residents will still be deprived of service delivery until their Road Authority follows the dictates of the Road Act.

Mayor Mafume meanwhile threatened to take Zinara to court saying its model for road construction is not working and that since 2009 Zinara has not built a single road in the capital.

“We are taking Zinara to court for we can no longer continue to play when people’s cars are being damaged, and there are road accidents. The road network is fast disappearing, yet there is an institution (Zinara) collecting in excess of US$64 million annually.

“The establishment of Zinara led to the transfer of the vehicle licensing portfolio from local authorities to the statutory body.

“That is when the problems of failure to repair and maintain roads and the attendant infrastructure began, and the results were visible on the ground for all to see,” Mafume said.

“For a period of time, Zinara dabbled in high-level corruption as they were buying aeroplanes, gave huge perks to its executives and swimming pools, and bought several things using public funds.

“We demand transparency and accountability in the utilisation of these public funds,” he said.

Mafume added: “The law is very explicit and stipulates the following as road user fees: vehicle licence fees, fuel levy and carbon tax. Currently, only part of the vehicle licence fees is distributed to the road authorities.

“In the last five years, out of expectations of plus or minus US$60 million per year, the City of Harare received less than US$2,5 million.

“The City of Harare has not received anything from the fuel levy and carbon tax revenues in the past years, and this is another area where we are demanding our fair share of the national cake.”

“We received $1,431 billion of which $800 000 was from registered vehicles, and the vehicle licences cost US$20 per quarter for most of the private vehicles, totalling US$64 million annually.

“The $1,431 billion translates to US$2,13 million using the official rate as at 31 December 2022. This amount is not enough even to do five kilometres of road reconstruction,” Mafume said.