Zimbabwe Lawyers for Human Rights (ZLHR) has said Parliament is not aware of the central government’s firetrucks deal with the government of Belarus which shall see local government authorities spending about US$55 million of the councils’ devolution funds. Local Government and Public Works Minister, July Moyo is being accused of imposing the deal on local government authorities. Reports say President Emmerson Mnangagwa’s associate, Alyaksandr (Alexander) Zingmanis said to be the ultimate beneficiary of the deal. Recently, a Chitungwiza resident approached ZLHR seeking clarification on the deal. Pindula News presents the lawyers’ update on the case:
PARLIAMENT UNAWARE OF CONTROVERSIAL GOVT FIRE TENDER PROCUREMENT
PARLIAMENT says it is not aware of the existence of some critical documents pertaining to the opaque procurement of some firefighting trucks from Belarus by the Ministry of Local Government and Public Works.
On Thursday 23 June 2022, Alice Kuvheya, a resident of Chitungwiza, engaged Paidamoyo Saurombe and Jeremiah Bamu of Zimbabwe Lawyers for Human Rights, who wrote letters addressed to Dr Misheck Sibanda, the Chief Secretary to President Mnangagwa and Cabinet, Kennedy Chokuda, the Clerk Parliament of Zimbabwe and Zvinechimwe Churu, the Permanent Secretary for Ministry of Local Government and Public Works, requesting to be furnished with a copy of the Government to Government Agreement between the government of the Republic of Zimbabwe and the government of the Republic of Belarus relating to the procurement of fire tenders on behalf of local authorities.
The request followed media reports alleging that the government through the Ministry of Local Government and Public Works had circumvented the public tendering system by commandeering both rural and urban councils to use financial resources meant for Devolution to procure fire-fighting trucks from Belarus.
Kuvheya, who said she is acting in the interest of public accountability, asked for the total cost of the fire tender equipment to be procured from the government of the Republic of Belarus, and the quantities ordered, payments made to date for the purchase of the equipment and outstanding balances.
The human rights campaigner, who is also the Executive Director of Chitungwiza Residents Trust, also wanted to be furnished with Parliament’s approval of the “Government to Government “Agreement as required by Section 327(3) of the Constitution including copies of all “Government to Government “Agreements entered into with the Government of the Republic of Belarus and the due diligence conducted by the Government of Zimbabwe relating to the suitability specifications and costings of the fire tenders sought and being procured and comparison in terms of the suitability specifications and costings from other suppliers.
Kuvheya said she is making the request for such information and specifications in terms of Section 62(1) of the Constitution as read with Section 7 of the Freedom of Information Act.
According to the provisions of the Freedom of Information Act, Dr Sibanda, Chokuda and Churu have a maximum of 21 days within which to respond to Kuvheya’s request.
In response to Kuvheya’s request, Chokuda on 27 June 2022 disclosed that Parliament is not in “possession of any of the documents” requested by Kuvheya such as the Government to Government Agreement between Harare and Minsk, the total cost of the equipment and quantities ordered, payments made to date and Parliament’s approval of the Government to Government Agreement as required by Section 327(3) of the Constitution.