THE Urban Councils Association of Zimbabwe (UCAZ) yesterday decried politicisation of road funds amid reports that the Zimbabwe National Roads Administration (Zinara) was only rehabilitating roads leading to venues chosen for Zanu PF’s campaign rallies.
By VENERANDA LANGA
The issue came when UCAZ officials appeared in Parliament to speak on Zinara disbursements for road maintenance to urban and rural district councils.
UCAZ vice-president Tsungai Makore told the Michael Madanha-led Parliamentary Portfolio Committee on Local Government that Zinara was planning to disburse $43,4 million to urban councils and $23,3 million to rural district councils (RDCs) this year.
He, however, raised concerned over alleged partisan distribution of the funds resulting in areas where Zanu PF holds its interface rallies receiving preferential treatment.
“Disbursements should not be made in a partisan manner and politics should not determine that some urban or RDCs are a priority using political consideration,” he said.
“The figures for 2017 allocations give a clear picture of instances when there were some Zanu PF gatherings and those local authorities that did not have interface rallies did not benefit, but those with interface rallies benefited.”
Makore also said that Zinara should put more money into the repair of urban roads where there is a wide network of tarred roads.
MPs urged local authorities to desist from diverting Zinara funds meant for roads towards salaries and other expenses.
Makore said local authorities were in 2013 heavily affected when government ordered a debt write-off. He said councils were now failing to meet statutory obligations like paying to Zimra and ended up having their accounts garnished because of the directive.
Vice-president of RDCs, Patrick Chidhakwa, told the committee that the snow graders that were purchased by Zinara in 2008 from Univern were not suitable for Zimbabwe after Harare West MP Jessie Majome and Glen Norah MP Webster Maondera demanded to know if it was wise to purchase such graders.
“The snow graders were a very big mistake and we hope it will not be repeated again. Yes, they are working, but they are giving us a lot of problems. I think we have now realised the mistake made and we believe that when Zinara puts in $22 million to RDCs for them to acquire equipment they will leave RDCs to acquire it, or it will be done through consultations,” Chidhakwa said.
RDCs secretary Lucy Furamera said rural areas need a bigger allocation of road funds because 70% of Zimbabwe’s population are in rural areas.