Local contractors let us down –– Zinwa

This was revealed when the Zinwa board and senior management appeared before the parliamentary Public Accounts Portfolio Committee on Monday to explain why it had failed to deliver on the projects as outlined in the 2010 Comptroller and Auditor-General’s Report.

Zinwa hired indigenous contractors for most of the projects during the period under review since most competent international companies shunned the Zimbabwean market for paying in worthless Zimbabwe dollars.

Indigenous contractors remained the only option, but most of them lacked requisite functional equipment to undertake such projects.

Zinwa board member Vavarirai Choga said indigenous companies had let down the water authority as they needed massive hand-holding during implementation of the projects.

Choga said: “The indigenous contractors usually came with equipment that would breakdown after two or three days on the job. They would then seek an advance payment but even with that they still failed to complete the job. The indigenous companies lacked experience in delivering on large projects.”

Among the Zinwa outstanding projects are the Binga borehole drilling, Tokwe-Mukosi, Matezva, Mutange, Gwayi-Shangani and Shave dams.

Zinwa board chairman Never Mhlanga attributed the delays in project completion to inadequate and erratic funding the water authority received from treasury.

“The main challenge Zinwa faced was hyperinflation and underfunding from treasury during the period under review. For instance in 2011, we were allocated US$68 million and to date only US$900 000 has been disbursed from treasury,” Mhlanga said.

However, Zinwa conceded to Chikomba East MP Edgar Mwembwe’s observation that the water authority did not have adequate technical staff within the group. Choga said it was true that at some point Zinwa did not have adequate staff.

“However, we have since recruited and we can now deliver on our mandate,” he said.

Zinwa also revealed it was sitting on a debtors’ book valued at US$88 million in contrast to its own debts of US$55 million. The majority of the debtors are newly resettled farmers failing to settle their irrigation water bills, government institutions, local authorities and corporate organisations which receive bulk water supplies.

“In 2011 we billed a total of US$43 million, but unfortunately we collected US$27 million,” Mhlanga said.

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