Army under fire over truck imports

via Army under fire over truck imports – The Zimbabwean 29 July 2015

The Defence Force has come under fire from the business community for importing vehicles that are assembled and available locally and for defying the Presidential Decree that compels all government departments, parastatals and local authorities to purchase 80% of their vehicles locally.

Concerns have been expressed as to why the army proceeded to import vehicles allegedly to the value of $20 million when Quest Motors Manufacturing was able to supply the vehicles.

In fact, this Mutare-based vehicle assembly plant is currently producing the very same make of Foton trucks imported by the army.

Captains of industry are demanding answers from the army for its total disregard of the controversial economic blueprint ‘Zim-Asset’ – adopted by the Zanu (PF), a party the military has long claimed it owes its allegiance to.

Economist Andrew Mujanga said the decision by the army was ill-timed and bent on further crippling the local industry.

Army should know better

“The army should have known better. Their decision to source from outside vehicles that are available locally forces one to question the capability of the staff leading these institutions.

“The country is bleeding from a high import bill and the army has worsened the situation. Quest Motors could have benefitted from the deal and this would have meant more employees and support to other industries downstream that supply parts. Yet the army saw it fit to ignore the economic blueprint and to dump money outside the borders,” fumed Mujanga.

Another incensed business analyst, Taurai Mangwiro, said the army should be stopped forthwith from importing vehicles and forced to grant the tender locally.

“The powers that be in government should immediately investigate the matter and stop it. Whoever was responsible for this should be brought to book,” he said.

Political will missing

Other local business analysts suggested that the deal might have been conducted clandestinely.

“Political will is the missing link to buying local. We have the Presidential decree in place, but what is the real situation on the ground? It’s not being followed because of corruption. The importation of vehicles is usually done through skewed means, especially by parastatals and other arms of government,” said Charles Tavazadza, another business analyst.

National army spokesperson Lieutenant Colonel Alphias Makotore had not responded to questions emailed to him, but the Ministry of Industry and Commerce, that is responsible for imports and exports, confirmed the development after being approached by this reporter.

“I managed to get feedback and the army confirmed, through the Permanent Secretary, that they were importing Foton trucks. So yes, the army is purchasing Foton trucks, some have already been received and others are still coming,” he said.

Industry Minister Michael Bimha was told that the army had first approached Willowvale Mazda Motor Industries (WMMI) but that they could not reach an agreement.

“They claim that they approached Willowvale first and requested the assembly and supply of Foton trucks, but that Willowvale couldn’t meet these requirements. They then proceeded to source elsewhere and found a contractor who sealed a two year credit facility. I’m not aware if they also approached Quest. There is still a lot I want to know as far as how this came about and I am pursuing the issue,” he said.

However, further investigation has revealed that the army did, in fact, approach Quest Motors earlier this year. Three top personnel staff members, namely Major General Nyikayaramba, Air Force Commander Air Marshall Perrence Shiri and Air Commodore Innocent Chiganze were involved.

The trio approached Quest and actually bought the first four Foton Tunland’s to be assembled at its Mutare plant and expressed the intention to extend a $20 million contract to Quest.

Army U-turn

However, the army later made a U-turn and imported vehicles using the Forbes Border Post before switching to Beitbridge after the Mutare business community started making too much noise about the issue.

The minister pointed out that the government position was very clear and that all government departments are supposed to purchase vehicles locally. “As a Ministry it is our mandate to ensure that all government departments buy (vehicles) from local assemblers and this is the position of government. We should sacrifice to adhere to the policies we have and support our industries.

“All government departments should buy vehicles locally. There might be economic costs to it but in the long run we get our industries running and create employment for our people, ” said Bimha. The minister has been working with captains of industry to introduce the Motor Industry Policy with the aim of plugging government arms and departments as well as parastatals not adhering to the Presidential Decree.

Meanwhile, another parastatal, the Zimbabwe United Passenger Company (ZUPCO) has been importing buses from Chinese First Automotive Works (FAW) while Quest and AVM Africa could have benefitted from the deal.

COMMENTS

WORDPRESS: 3
  • comment-avatar
    Adriaan Svosve 7 years ago

    The reported approach to Quest by Defence Forces’ top Chefs smells a rat. These institutions have buyers! Why do Chefs meddle in tghe processes? Is it about sharing the cake?

  • comment-avatar
    tonyme 7 years ago

    This situation shows the rot from the core and the fact that nothing is going to happen until there is a stand taken from the very top. The president needs to make it known that Zimbabweans need job, and the fact that his own parastatals are not helping the situation by spending $20 million outside the country. This is a sad and deplorable situation. How many other departments are going to be tempted to purchase vehicles from outside the country? I do smell a rat here.

  • comment-avatar
    jackson 7 years ago

    Of all the Security Forces in Africa, I take my hat off for the Egyptian Secury Force. Any President with a mentality like mugabe’s, doesnt last, they chase him out of power. In short, they are on the people’s side. Not this zanu pf militia masquerading as a National Security Force in Zimbabwe.