via Traditional leaders to get top-of-the-range vehicles – NewsDay Zimbabwe August 18, 2015 by Xolisani Ncube
THE country’s estimated 250 traditional leaders will soon take delivery of top-of-the-range all-terrain Isuzu vehicles under a $5 million loan scheme bankrolled by CBZ and underwritten by government, NewsDay has learnt.
Chiefs’ Council president Chief Fortune Charumbira yesterday said the deal was struck after “intense discussions between various car dealers, officials from the Ministry of Local Government and traditional leaders themselves”.
“It’s true we are supposed to get new vehicles under the traditional leaders’ vehicle loan scheme which was established in 2004. Initially we were supposed to get these cars in 2009, but government could not facilitate that because it had no cash,” Charumbira said.
The top-of-range all-terrain vehicles, according to Charumbira, would be sourced from a Harare car dealer, Paza Buster, believed to be linked to Home Affairs minister Ignatius Chombo.
But Chombo, who until a recent Cabinet reshuffle had served as Local Government minister for 15 years, yesterday denied any links with Paza Buster.
“I have no business interest in Paza Buster. If you were to say Croco Motors, it would be better. I at times play golf with (Moses) Chingwena (Croco Motors chairman), not Paza Buster,” Chombo said.
Charumbira said they did not settle for the car dealer because of the “supposed links to the Zanu PF minister,” but the capacity to supply the wanted brand.
“If any dealer has enough Isuzu to supply to our traditional leaders, they can approach us and we can abandon Paza Buster. We did not decide to buy from Paza Buster because it is said to be linked minister Chombo, we settled for Isuzus and it is Paza Buster that has a dealership licence to sell Isuzus in this country,” he said.
The chiefs, who are paid $300 in monthly allowances and currently drive government-issued vehicles, stand accused by Zanu PF opponents of dabbling in partisan politics.
Local Government minister Savior Kasukuwere said he was yet to get a full briefing on the issue.
“I cannot say anything at the moment. I am yet to get an appreciation on that,” he said.
Charumbira said it was their constitutional right to drive state-of-the-art cars befitting their status in society as chiefs.
“When we settled for this model, we had invited all car dealers in the country to explain to us how their vehicles performed.
In that meeting, we had Croco Motors and they told us how the Ford Ranger operates. We also had submissions from Willowvale Madza Motor Industries and we looked at which car is good for the rural areas and durable, hence we decided to go for an Isuzu,” he said.
“Just like how MPs accessed their vehicles, as chiefs we negotiated with CBZ Bank and they agreed to offer us a loan facility which we will repay through our allowances as they will be deducted by Treasury and channelled towards the scheme.”
According to the deal, the chiefs will repay the loan in six years, but Charumbira could not reveal the interest rate the loan will attract and how much each chief will pay to settle the loan.
During the chiefs’ annual conference last year, President Robert Mugabe told them they could get any car they wanted and government would bankroll the purchases.
In 2012, the more than 250 traditional leaders made shock demands to be given diplomatic passports and firearms for personal security.
Also, chiefs demanded that government treats them the same way as judges and magistrates, arguing that they handled a lot of cases in rural areas, where the majority of the people live and that they brought justice to the grassroots.