China has reportedly blocked the full release of US$144 million loans to Zimbabwe meant for the refurbishment of the Morton Jeffray waterworks in Harare. The move resulted from the government’s failure to pay back millions of dollars’ worth of debt to China. The Chinese had committed to advance US$144 million for the project, but only $72 million has been availed.
Harare City has experienced perennial debilitating water shortages for several years with some suburbs receiving intermittent water supplies. The water is reportedly undrinkable, often being dirty and muddy. Harare Mayor, Herbert Gomba refuted allegations that the loan facility was halted because of corruption by the current city fathers. He said
We had worked on more than 70% of the work using part of the $144 million. Only $72 million has been availed but the project stopped because of debts by the previous government.
… We were told by government officials that they sought to address the matter. There are discussions between governments on the matter and other matters we are told.
The nature of the deal is that we do not have access to any funds. We do not hold anything as the project is supervised by the Office of the President and cabinet and the Ministry of Finance. We are not taking seriously those making baseless allegations of corruption based on illusions or those desperate to make a name through lies yet they themselves are known fraudsters.