A company linked to prominent businessman and former Zanu PF stalwart Ray Kaukonde, Motor City Toyota, is in the eye of a storm after allegedly failing to deliver on time about 28 vehicles to the Ministry of Industry and Commerce despite receiving full payment in December last year.
Motor City Toyota, where Kaukonde is the board chairman, won a competitive tender to supply the Ministry of Industry and Commerce 24 Toyota Hilux 4x4 vehicles and four Toyota Corollas in November last year.
The vehicle supplier was then fully paid by the end of December last year and the delay in the delivery of vehicles almost 10 months on has triggered divisions within the ministry.
For the past two months, there have been accusations and counter-accusations around the mystery surrounding the delays in the supply of the vehicles. There is a section in the ministry that has been accused of being lenient with the supplier among a slew of allegations.
Kaukonde, besides being a prominent politician in Mashonaland East province, is also linked to several corporations where he serves either as chairperson or a board member.
Motor City Toyota received payment in three phases from the Ministry of Industry and Commerce.
According to the ministry’s response to inquiries from the Independent, Motor City Toyota was paid, in the first tranche, for four Hilux vehicles, the
second for 13 Hilux vehicles and four Corollas while the last was payment for seven Hilux vehicles.
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“The payments were done in December 2021. The vehicles were supposed to be delivered in the first quarter of the year 2022. However, the supplier advised the ministry that there was going to be a delay in the deliveries of the vehicles due to the floods that affected the manufacturers in Durban (South Africa).
“It should be noted that the ministry had been given the engine numbers and chassis numbers of the first four vehicles. However, those vehicles were also affected by the floods. The supplier advised the ministry, accordingly),” the ministry said.
The ministry further revealed that Motor City Toyota advised them that the eight-week lead time would start in August this year after the manufacturing plant in Durban had been restored to normal operations.
“The ministry was given a new delivery schedule which is within the year 2022. The ministry was given the chassis numbers and engine numbers of the four vehicles and one of the vehicles is already in the country awaiting clearance and registration.
“The ministry’s management is being updated on the vehicle contract status in the weekly meetings by the Procurement Management Unity. The minister is updated in the senior management meetings,” the ministry said.
Responding to the allegations, Motor City Toyota told the Independent that the company experienced challenges around accessing foreign currency as well as floods that affected vehicle production in South Africa.
“We were paid in local currency and we needed close to US$1 million for the purchase of the vehicles. That means we had to get foreign currency from the auction and that took time. There was also a challenge in vehicle production in Durban after the floods and there was communication from Toyota to all dealerships.
“We are not aware of what is happening at the ministry but we have been updating them on the progress,” the vehicle dealer said.
The latest developments come in the wake of reports that security and law enforcement agencies including tax authorities were worried about business dealers who are accumulating massive wealth through government contracts while failing to deliver. On the spotlight are businesspeople linked to politicians and have reportedly been taking advantage of their associations while living lavishly after getting government contracts to supply various goods and items.
Their lifestyles have also attracted security and law enforcement agents including tax authorities over their questionable lifestyles with growing discontent among government ministries.
Treasury also recently directed all ministries, departments and agencies to suspend payments with various suppliers and review all running contracts as authorities battle to contain inflationary pressures and put a lid on currency volatilities rocking the Zimbabwean economy.
It is estimated that the government, being the largest procuring entity, pays ZW$50 billion (approximately US$110 million) annually to various suppliers of goods and services, who in turn offload the rapidly depreciating local currency on the black market in exchange for stable foreign currencies, thereby fuelling run-away inflation and price increases.