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 a 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.
The Independent reports that 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.
ZIMIT has since written to Mnangagwa asking for his intervention.
A source close to the developments told the Independent that the President is yet to respond. Said the source:
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.
Sources said ZIMIT used US$5.5 million “procuring 10 mobile laboratories and equipment which include leak detectors, measuring devices and software” which the company intended to use for the implementation of the nationwide water audit.
The local Government and Public Works ministry told the Independent that ZIMIT had been told that the central government had considered engaging a government department. Said the ministry
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.
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).
The ministry also stated that section 42 (f) of the Public Procurement and Disposal of Public Assets Act [Chapter 22: 23] allows the cancellation of a procurement process if it is in the public interest.
The audit exercise is meant to address Zimbabwe’s longstanding water challenges characterised by poor infrastructure, contamination, non-revenue water sitting at 60%, distribution networks and treatment technologies.