PRESS STATEMENT City of Harare: losing millions of US Dollars in goods and services not delivered
08 December 2020, Harare- CORRUPT City of Harare officials and councillors have systematically authorised full payments and over-payments for goods and services not delivered to the council resulting in the local authority losing thousands of ratepayers’ money in United States dollars. Council committees engage in symbolic actions to create the impression that they want the looted funds to be returned to the City of Harare, or that they want the undelivered goods and services to be provided without delay. The Chamber Secretary as the chief legal advisor should lead recovery efforts to the council. However, nothing really is recovered. Councillors continue with their routine meetings and simply come up with resolutions that are never implemented. This Press Statement summarises a report that the City of Harare’s Audit Committee submitted to the Full Council in mid-2019 whose recommendations and findings remain unimplemented.
A sample review done by the Audit Manager in a report dated 18 June 2019 covered a sample of tenders which were concluded or implemented between January 2016 and December 2017 revealed that most of the companies were either paid in full or overpaid, but did not fulfil their obligations in terms of signed work commitments. The City of Harare’s Audit Committee received this report and the Acting Chamber Secretary Charles Kandemiiri has not successfully recovered ratepayers’ funds. Members of the Audit Committee who received the report on 17 July 2019 are Ian Makone (Chairman, Ward 18, Borrowdale), Keith Charumbira (Vice Chairman, Ward 8, Highlands, now recalled), Lovemore Makuwerere (Ward 24, Highfield, recalled), Stanley Manasi Manyenga (Ward 23, Waterfalls, recalled), Tichaona Mhetu (Ward 15, Warren Park), and Stewart Mutizwa (Ward 9, Greendale). Twenty-five council officials attended the meeting, including the Town Clerk, Engineer Hosiah Chisango, Acting Chamber Secretary, Charles Kandemiiri, Housing and Community Services Director, Admore Nhekairo, Zvenyika Chawatama, Director of Works among others.
The findings of the Audit Manager, identified as A. Nyamurova, revealed that the sampled seven companies took nearly two million in United States Dollars from the City of Harare and none of them has been held accountable. Instead, in one case, the Environment Management Committee attempted to push through an issue that the Audit Committee was pronouncing itself strongly. The seven contracts sampled are: Podila Ventures (Tender Number COH/DOW/S9/2016- Supply and Delivery of a Jet Patcher), Synlak (Pvt) Ltd (Tender Number COH/DHCS/S2/2015- Removal of the old existing Crematorium, Supply, Delivery, Installation and Commissioning of a new Cremation Unit and Ancillary Equipment and Standby Generator at Warren Hills Crematorium), Synlak (Pvt) Ltd (Tender Number COH/DOW/S9/2015- Design and Construction of 4 x 200 square metres Biogas Generator), Furbank (Pvt) Ltd (Tender Number COH/FD/S2/2016- Supply and Delivery of 25 Saloon Motor Vehicles on Hire Purchase Basis), and Furbank (Pvt) Ltd (Tender Number PBR 0287 for the supply and delivery of 15 plate compactors.
The other contracts are for Platinum Resources (Pvt) Ltd (Tender Number COH/DHCS/5/2017 for the supply, delivery and installation of 38 tents and Conplant Technology (Tender Number COH/DOW/SFT/S.14/2016 for the supply and delivery of three motorised graders and 10 tipper trucks. The tents were supposed to be installed at the Market Square, Copacabana, Simon Vengesai Muzenda Market and Seke Road. The contract agreement of US$338 752 was entered into between the council and Platinum Resources Ltd. Due to poor quality work, the cost was reduced to US$41 141,00 for work done. It remains a mystery how out of the 38 tents, only seven had been installed at Market Square and Coventry Road Holding Bay. These had been however lost to the Government in an ‘overnight raid on vending structures blitz and the City Council could not retrieve its tents at the Market Square.’
The City of Harare lost money amounting to US$398 370, 00, to ConPlant Technology for the supply of three motorised graders and 10 tipper trucks at a total cost of US$2 226 745. Initially the agreement was that the council would pay 70 percent of the contract price with the balance of US$668 023, 50 scheduled to be paid after the pre-delivery test. The graders were to be delivered within four weeks while the tipper trucks were to be delivered in six weeks. In fulfilment of their obligations, the City of Harare paid US$1 558720, 00. The 10 tipper trucks valued at US$1 1160 350, 00 were delivered on 25 June 2018 but the three motorised graders were not delivered.’
Minutes of the 17 July 2019, Audit Committee revealed that council’s audit had observed ‘a serious breakdown of controls as evidenced by the processing of payments without following contractual provisions. Nearly plus two years after these contracts were entered into between the City of Harare and the sampled contractors, the City made full payments for goods not delivered. The City management and councillors enter into agreements on behalf of the ratepayers. Therefore, it is the ratepayers, who have lost to massive corruption within the council system.
With this overwhelming evidence of financial leakages in the City of Harare to contractors who appear to have their insiders in the council among officials and councillors, the Harare Residents’ Trust recommends that the full amounts owed to the City of Harare should be recovered through legal means without further delays. Officials in the City of Harare who have been found to authorise payments for services not delivered must be severely punished and disciplinary measures must be taken to correct the growing trend of deliberately looting council funds through unfulfilled contracts.