THE Local Government ministry has allegedly diverted Bulawayo City Council’s (BCC’s) devolution funds towards the purchase of expensive fire tenders from Belarus without engaging the local authority.
The opposition Citizens Coalition for Change (CCC) party had indicated that councils it controls will not pay for the fire tenders.
This was after Local Government ministry secretary, Zvinechimwe Churu wrote to all councils advising them that government was acquiring the fire tenders on their behalf at a cost of US$464 296 each.
Local government minister July Moyo was accused of imposing the deal which set prices of each fire tender at more than US$400 000 despite the market price being US$60 000.
Latest council minutes reveal that the Local Government ministry diverted BCC’s devolution funds towards the purchase of fire tenders against a standing council resolution.
A full council meeting held on July 3 had resolved to go against the ministry directive on the purchase of Belarus fire tenders.
"Council was in receipt of a letter from the Permanent Secretary for Local Government and Public Works (Churu) wherein he indicated the deduction of $121 615 797.82 towards the payment of fire tenders. From the total allocation of $1 070 754 100 there was now a balance of $881 938 302.18," read the minutes.
"The utilisation of Devolution Funds to procure fire tenders was against the Council Resolution of July 3. The matter was considered and Councillor Edwin Ndlovu felt that further engagements be done with the parent ministry."
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Council said it required more plant equipment rather than fire tenders.
"The resolution was to purchase plant equipment using the devolution funds. He (deputy mayor Mlandu Ncube) did not support the purchasing of Fire tenders. Residents should be informed accordingly," read the minutes.
In May, the Zimbabwe Lawyers for Human Rights (ZLHR) wrote to the local government ministry requesting documents signed between Zimbabwe and Belarus for the procurement tenders on behalf of local authorities.
Human rights lawyers demanded to see copies of the agreement, amid fears of corruption as critics alleged the cost could have been inflated as indications are that fire tenders cost around US$30 000 each in countries like China.