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Mnangagwa petitioned over July Moyo

TINASHE KAIRIZA
A LOCAL firm, Zimbabwe Innovative Technologies (ZIMIT), has appealed to President Emmerson Mnangagwa for intervention after Local Government and Public Works minister July Moyo overturned a US$17,4 million tender for water audit.

There have been numerous reports involving Moyo’s imperial powers in councils as he has made unilateral decisions to impose contractors or cancel tenders.

While the statutes may give him leeway to be involved in council matters, the rate of arm-twisting playing out in local authorities has raised eyebrows.

Moyo’s over-reaching influence in councils’ affairs was exposed last week by this publication over how his ministry delayed disbursing US$5,4 million to Nanotech, which won rights to install a chlorine dioxide treatment system that can save Harare’s residents from drinking toxic water.

Relating to the water audit, ZIMIT was awarded the multi-million-dollar tender by the United Councils Association of Zimbabwe (UCAZ) in September 2021. It was supposed to be implemented from devolution funds.

Multiple sources told the Independent this week, that the aggrieved firm has since written to Mnangagwa asking for his intervention.

The President is yet to respond.

“ZIMIT satisfied all tender procedures to the stage. They were given the award letter in September last year having submitted their bid in July,” a source close to the developments told the Independent.

“The company is trying to get the project back on track.

“Company officials have written to President Mnangagwa asking him to save their bid. Unfortunately, upon winning the tender, the company bought the equipment needed to carry out the project. But they have not started working. The audit is important in ensuring local authorities make informed decisions.”

ZIMIT, sources said, in planning to implement the nationwide water audit had since shelled out US$5,5 million “procuring 10 mobile laboratories and equipment which include leak detectors, measuring devices and software”.

The audit exercise is meant to address Zimbabwe’s longstanding water challenges characterised by shambolic infrastructure, contamination, non-revenue water sitting at 60%, distribution networks and treatment technologies.

ZIMIT chairperson Pax Nkomo said the “matter was still under discussion”.

“Yes, we won a tender floated by UCAZ for water audit. The matter is still under discussion. We will get back to you,” he said this week.

UCAZ chairperson and Hwange town clerk Ndumiso Mdhalosi was not available for comment.

Presidential spokesperson George Charamba did not respond to questions posed by the Independent.

Contacted for comment, Local Government and Public Works ministry said: “UCAZ spearheaded a process to engage a consultant to undertake a water audit in all the 32 urban local authorities. Councils then agreed to use Chegutu Municipality as the contracting authority, leading to the engagement of ZIMIT. The matter was, however, brought to the attention of the ministry before ZIMIT could sign a contract with Chegutu Municipality, and the latter was advised to immediately retract from the matter.

“ZIMIT wrote to the ministry expressing its desire to proceed with the assignment. They were, however, advised that the ministry had considered the nature of the exercise and felt it was supposed to be led by government,” it said.

“As indeed stated in the letter to ZIMIT, the minister can give direction to a local authority on policy matters that it considers to be in the national interest (section 313 of the Urban Councils Act [Chapter 29: 15] is relevant).

“Further, section 42 (f) of the Public Procurement and Disposal of Public Assets Act [Chapter 22: 23] gives a procuring entity leeway to cancel a procurement process if it is in the public interest. Against these provisions, it is pertinent to point out that water is not only a national asset but a national security matter which in terms of the Water Act [Chapter 20: 24] is vested in the President.

“The ministry, in this instance, acted prudently in advising UCAZ to stop the water audit since (the) national government needs to own the process and the output, thereof,” the ministry added.

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