Harare risks losing $10m deals over Zinara ‘takeover’

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Zanu PF secretary for administration Obert Mpofu

HARARE City Council risks losing $10 million potential deals with three foreign urban councils if the Zimbabwe National Roads Authority (Zinara) takes over the lucrative city parking business.

BY MOSES MATENGA

Transport minister Obert Mpofu recently revealed he was in talks with his Local Government counterpart Ignatious Chombo on modalities of government running city parking bays.

But council has since pleaded with Chombo to stop the move as it would effectively cripple the already cash-strapped local authority.

Business committee chairperson Herbert Gomba said the city was on the verge of clinching “mega deals” worth more than $10 million in Ghana’s Accra and Kumasi cities as well as Monrovia in Liberia. Gomba said discussions on the deals which would see Harare entering into joint ventures for the running of parking businesses in the three West African cities were under threat because of moves by Zinara to take over the parking business.

“Harare is probably the only city with a sound parking system in the country and that is innovation on our part. Why does the government want to punish innovation?” Gomba asked.

He questioned why the government was taking all the council cash-cows without considering the consequences of such moves to residents who could be affected by rates hikes.

“Both Parliament and Zinara never consulted us on the move. You can’t conclude such an issue without engaging the people involved. We intend to go to Ghana for a $4 million investment. We were also invited to the city of Kumasi, but such talks will
definitely affect our ability of expansion,” Gomba said.

“There is another project in Monrovia where we are expected to venture into once the Ebola issue is dealt with.”

He said it was sad that the government was “stripping” council of a lot of investments, including the Harare Thermal Power Station that was given to Zesa, the transport system given to Zupco, and now the city parking business.

Gomba said due to political influence and the ever-increasing number of vendors, the local authority was losing out on a lot of potential revenue.

“Council will go back to residents and say ‘sources of revenue are being taken over, can we, therefore, increase rates and finance service delivery?’ and we know this will not be a good thing to do. We plead with Minister Chombo to assist us in this regard and help us protect our sources,” he said.

Gomba said vendors and politicians were making life difficult for the city fathers.

“If people have a problem, they invest in taking over our sources. They took over our thermal station, Zinara took over licensing authority and government took over Harare omnibus and gave that to Zupco, politicians took markets. How do they want us to survive?” he asked.

Gomba said residents were not paying their rates, believing that government would once again write off their debts as what happened before the 2013 elections.

Mpofu recently told Parliament that Zinara had a more efficient system of collecting fees than local authorities.