Council warned over briefcase companies


The Bulawayo Progressive Residents Association (BPRA) has lamented failure by the Bulawayo City Council (BCC) to monitor contracted private companies resulting in the local authority losing millions of dollars to briefcase companies.

BPRA secretary for administration Thembelani Dube expressed concern at the poor workmanship by contracted private companies.

“A new culture of lack of consultation has emerged with the city managers running council as if it were some retail stores,” Dube said.

“BPRA has noted a trend whereby BCC subcontracts some of its duties to private agents, and then managers go to “sleep” after signing those contracts, assuming that agents or private developers will deliver according to the agreements.

“Due to the absence of mechanisms to monitor and ensure compliance, most of these companies have just collected the money and disappeared.”

Council has lost several thousands of dollars to briefcase companies that would have won various tenders for different projects but failed to provide the services.

The local authority once lost more than $300 000 to a briefcase Harare company in an ambulance procurement deal in 2010 after paying for the supply of six ambulances.

The company disappeared without trace.

Council also lost thousands of dollars in a dodgy deal with a South African company that failed to supply a crematorium machine.

There are also a number of deals where contracted companies have failed to deliver services.

“It is the submission of BPRA that contracting out, while it’s a good initiative if not properly managed, has the potential to replace government monopoly with a private one, with drastically reduced efficiency gains,” Dube said.

“While local authorities aim at obtaining better services that cost less, this objective is not shared by the private agent whose objective is rather to perform less work but receive higher remuneration especially under the ‘dog-eat-dog’ prevailing environment. Contracting out appears like a reap-off. “

Bulawayo deputy mayor Mlandu Ncube denied claims that council was failing to monitor undergoing projects.

“Actually council has a project management committee that reports to council now and then and reports to council,” Ncube said.

“People must appreciate that it’s not easy to just cancel the contract there are a lot of legal routes that need to be taken in order to be disqualified.”

Some councillors including management have been accused of receiving kickbacks to facilitate tenders for some private companies.

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