THE State Procurement Board must probe irregularities involving overpricing by the Harare City Council on the $144 million Chinese loan for the overhaul of Morton Jaffray Waterworks, government has said.
Speaking after touring the Morton Jaffray Waterworks project yesterday, Environment, Water and Climate minister Saviour Kasukuwere said the local authority must explain the overpricing anomalies in the multi-million-dollar deals.
Kasukuwere said although the Chinese were doing a great job at Morton Jaffray, the project would not immediately end Harare’s water crisis without the Kunzvi Dam project.
Asked about the project vis-à-vis corruption, Kasukuwere said: “I am sure there are appropriate methods of managing or indicating exactly what it is that has been done that is causing the inflation of prices. If it’s a fact the tender board is there to look at that. Let’s have some comparative figures to indicate to us that here are the inflated figures and why it has been done and I am sure the City of Harare will be able to give us the answer.”
Local Government minister Ignatius Chombo distanced himself from the Chinese deal.
“I didn’t even sign that contract. I am hearing it (the overpricing) from you. Why can’t you ask the engineers or the town clerk?” Chombo asked.
Parliamentarians recently asked both town clerk Tendai Mahachi and Harare mayor Bernard Manyenyeni to justify the $144 million expenditure on the water project. A report by a consultant, Peter Morris, showed that more than $100 million was being abused by officials on the project.
Kasukuwere said it was unfortunate that there were people making some noise over the Harare-China deal.
“The City of Harare has called those who are prepared to enter into public-private partnerships with the city in terms of rehabilitation of equipment. Not only the City of Harare, but across the country. Those with the finances are free to approach government and we will work with them,” he said.
It also emerged that council was losing millions of dollars purifying water as a result of pollution by residents and companies with Chombo saying the companies should pay for their actions.
Zimphos and Olivine Industries were mentioned as some of the companies polluting water and burdening the local authority that was forking out more than $3 million a month on eight chemicals to clean the water.
Manyenyeni told Parliament recently, that the Morton Jaffray project would only add 20% to the existing 500 megalitres a day being pumped daily.
Council has used more than $68 million on the project in purchasing equipment.