BY BLESSED MHLANGA
THE Chinese company which entered into a $144 million loan deal to upgrade Harare’s water and sewerage reticulation system, including the Morton Jaffray Waterworks, has sprung to the defence of the city fathers following allegations of corruption.
China Machinery Engineering Corporation (CMEC) said reports that Harare City Council diverted a substantial amount of money meant to upgrade the water and sewer reticulation system and bought top-of-the-range vehicles for its management were false and misleading.
“In the contract for development and rehabilitation of municipal water and sewerage treatment works project, a clause was included for the provision of funds (US$8 million) to be used by the Harare City Council for the procurement of equipment and materials for the project as per your requirement. To date, only US$3 million has been spent on procurements, including about US$1 million on procurement of 21 project vehicles ranging from pick-ups to SUVs,” a letter from CMEC read.
The vehicles, according to CMEC, were part and parcel of the $144 million deal and there was no diversion of funds or abuse of the facility.
“As the project sites, including Morton Jaffray Waterworks plant, Warren Control Plant Station, Alex Park Pump Station, Letombo Pump Station, Crowborough and Firle Sewerage Plants are located at different places in Harare, we appreciate and understand the City of Harare’s need for vehicles of this project due to the various widespread locations involved. So we released the funds,” CMEC wrote.
Harare mayor Herbert Gomba said the deal was structured by former town clerk Tendai Mahachi, at a time the local authority was under the management of a commission.
Gomba said when the top-of-the-range vehicles were delivered, councillors were shocked at the opulence and moved to suspend Mahachi.
“The mayor then suspended Mahachi, but what happened? The then Minister of Local Government suspended the mayor and reinstated Mahachi. The abuse of that facility was not done by the representatives of the residents of Harare,” he added.
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