Home » General » U.S.$2 Million Rides for Council Bigwigs – 50 News Cars, Instead of Eight Bought – Funds Diverted From Loan Facility

Harare City Council clandestinely bought 50 cars worth US$2 million using the US$144,4 million loan facility secured from China, nearly double the number of vehicles previously reported to have been purchased. The loan — which one engineering consultant has said could have been premised on overstating project costs by as much as US$100 million — is to rehabilitate the capital city’s water and sewerage infrastructure.

Sources at Town House yesterday said the project required, at most, the purchase of eight cars.

Instead, city officials allegedly bought three sports utility vehicles, 21 double-cab and 26 single-cab trucks from various car dealers in Harare.

It also emerged that senior officials have taken delivery of the cars even though they received new vehicles last year under a council scheme.

“The cars were bought without going to tender in an effort to conceal the transaction from councillors and Government,” a source said.

“Apart from hiding the deal from councillors, most senior managers who benefited from a previous car loan scheme last year have received new cars again and some now have three council vehicles at their disposal.”

The source at Town House also questioned the size of the project team and the inclusion of some officials.

“The project team is highly bloated with three project executives, two finance managers, public relations and legal managers, all to justify procurement of several luxury vehicles to reward certain individuals.

“Considering that this is essentially an electrical and mechanical equipment installation project, one wonders what role is being played by all the other officials,” the source added.

Town Clerk Dr Tendai Mahachi got a Range Rover Vogue while engineers Christopher Zvobgo and Phillip Pfukwa (project directors) took delivery of Land Rover Discovery 4 SUVs.

Other officials got Ford Ranger, Isuzu and Toyota twin-cab trucks, depending on their personal preference.

Yesterday Harare mayor Mr Bernard Manyenyeni said he was setting up a team to investigate the matter.

“As you are aware, I was tasked to identify two councillors and three other persons to be appointed into a special committee which will not only probe the cars issue, but expenditure so far incurred on the project and progress made on the implementation of the project. I am working on that and will submit for council approval,” he said

Under the loan agreement there was a provision for purchase of just eight cars.

At a full council meeting last week, the then acting town clerk, Eng Zvobgo, said council had bought 13 cars, while councillors said they knew of 25.

In 2010, the city secured a US$144,4 million loan guaranteed by Government for China National Machinery and Equipment Import and Export Corporation to refurbish water and sewage treatment plants.

The project has, however, been saddled with controversy after questions were raised on the value of some of equipment.

A report on the project last year by consulting engineer Mr Peter Morris showed that the city could lose up to US$100 million as the prices of equipment were in some instances priced at five times prevailing market rates.

The city insists everything is above board.

Source : The Herald