Munyaradzi Musiiwa, Midlands Correspondent
A LOCAL earthmoving equipment supplier, Pelgin Consulting Services is at loggerheads with local authorities who are now threatening to take legal action after they paid for road maintenance and construction machinery more than two years ago but have not yet received it.
Pelgin Consulting Services allegedly received money from more than 20 Rural District Councils dotted around the country and private companies for the supply of the earthmoving equipment but did not deliver the equipment. Some of the affected local authorities are Umguza, Binga, Bulilima, Bikita, Chaminuka, Chikomba, Chimanimani, Chipinge, Mhondoro Ngezi, Mudzi, Mutare, Mutoko, Muzarabani, Pfura, Tongogara and Zvimba Rural Districil Councils.
One of the local authorities, Tongogara RDC (Shurugwi) paid Pelgin Consulting Services US$67 850 on 27 July 2018 for the supply of a Backhoe Loader but has not yet received the equipment. Tongogara chief executive officer Mr Brain Rufasha said the company ordered the equipment from Pelgin Consulting Services and paid for it in full.
“We paid for the supply of a Backhoe Loader from Pelgin Consulting Services in 2018. We paid more than US$67 000 for the equipment but we are yet to receive it. There have been growing concerns among our stakeholders over the delay in the delivery of the equipment. At some point our stakeholders approached the Zimbabwe Anti-Corruption Commission (Zacc) to investigate the matter after getting the impression that we connived with the supplier. We understand their frustrations. As the local authority we are contemplating taking legal action against Pelgin Consulting Services to speed up the delivery of the equipment,” he said.
Pelgin Consulting Services has blamed the Reserve Bank of Zimbabwe (RBZ) for the delay in the disbursement of the funds for the procurement of the equipment for the local authorities. In an email sent to the local authorities, Pelgin Consulting Services managing director Mr Gary Moorcroft said his company had made an application to RBZ for the payment of the equipment.
“Good Day, as the year comes to an end, I am sure you are all very desperate to know where we stand with the supply of your equipment.
Firstly, I want to apologise that this has taken so long, and to thank you for your incredible patience and understanding while we have been engaging with the various Departments in Government as well as the RBZ, directly in order to get your payments to our suppliers effected.
“We had meetings with the deputy director Exchange Control and his team end of last week, who thoroughly interrogated us on why RBZ should consider our application under the Legacy Debt Application. This is because the policy on Legacy Debt recently was amended.
Initially when this came out in February, we applied for us to be registered under this in order to facilitate payment for your equipment. Our application was approved, and we were required to lodge our funds received by (from) you, with the RBZ. This we did through our bank.
These funds are still to this day sitting with the RBZ,” he said.
Added Mr Moorcroft: “The Legacy Debt Policy was recently changed to stipulate that only goods and services that had already been imported into the country or disbursed, were entitled under this facility. As a result, we had to show the RBZ, why our application should be considered. Fortunately, it is given that our application to import these machines is of strategic importance to the country as a whole.
Especially in view of the fact that the RDCs, Town Councils and Local Boards, have a mandate to develop Rural Councils and Districts with this much needed equipment. As a result, our application has been viewed in a totally different light to the other applications.”
Last week the company wrote to the local authorities apologising for the delays in delivery.
“We apologise that this has created extreme frustration and concerns among the various councils in Zimbabwe, like yourselves, and I can assure you that we continue to push and do all we can to expedite this. Unfortunately, we are limited in our ability to influence this more than what we are currently doing, but do believe we are now close to its conclusion. I am hoping that we will be contacting yourself and other councils very shortly with positive feedback on this being implemented,” said Mr Moorcroft in an email.
Contacted for comment, Mr Moorcroft said the delays in the RBZ application approval and money disbursements have slowed down the supply and delivery of the equipment.