via Govt spends $50m on cars, as hunger looms – NewZimbabwe 09/01/2016
HARARE: The government has ordered vehicles worth $50 million from Indian commercial car manufacturer Ashok Leyland, the company said Friday.
The alleged splurge on cars comes at a time the government has made an appeal to the World Food Programme for assistance to feed more than a million Zimbabweans facing hunger after poor harvests last year as another drought looms this year.
However, local government minister Saviour Kasukuwere whose department was cited as having placed the order, has denied knowledge of the transaction.
The company confirmed the order in a letter on Friday to the National Stock Exchange of India signed by company secretary N. Ramanathan.
“This is to inform you that Ashok Leyland received an order for 680 vehicles and spare parts worth $50 million from the Ministry of Local Government, Public works and National Housing, Government of Zimbabwe,” the letter reads.
Contacted for comment Kaskuwere told The Source that he was not aware of the transaction.
“There is nothing like that, I do not know about it,” he said.
The order follows one of the same value placed by the tourism ministry with the same car manufacturer in May 2014 which was said to be a suppliers’ credit facility financed by India’s Export Import Bank and payable over 10 and 20 years.
Last year, Zimbabwe’s defence forces took delivery of over 600 vehicles, including trucks and buses, manufactured by Ashok Leyland, under similar terms.
Agriculture minister Joseph Made recently said the government needs to raise $260million for grain imports, conceding that most of this year’s crop was a write-off due to poor rains.
The administration is struggling with its finances in a poor economy and last year failed to pay state workers their annual bonuses while December salaries were only paid in January this year.