State investigators breathing hard on Harare City Council after media probe of US$1 bn scam

November 10, 2020

Staff Reporter

A fresh report by the Special Anti-Corruption Unity (SACU) reveals that law enforcement agencies have cast a spotlight on the Harare City Council after councilors and senior staff allegedly attempted to award tenders worth close to US$1 billion to four Chinese companies without following due process.

The Zimbabwe Independent, working in collaboration with Information for Development Trust (IDT), a non-profit organisation helping journalists investigate corruption and bad governance, recently busted the tender scam.

Town Clerk Hosea Chisango and senior officials in the water section are said to have allocated the tenders to Sino Hydro, China Gezhouba Group Company (CGGC), China Geo-Engineering Company (CGEC) and China Machinery and Engineering Company (CEMC).

The tenders were not advertised as required and, on October 3 2019, councilors gave Chisango sweeping powers to approve commercial contracts worth US$868 million.

This was purportedly meant to enable the Chinese firms to start water, sewerage and waste water refurbishments projects under the Harare Metropolitan Master Plan.

Tabani Mpofu, the head of SACU—which is housed under the Office of the President and Cabinet—has just produced a report indicating that his unit, the police and the Zimbabwe Anti-Corruption Commission (ZACC) have developed particular interest in the alleged abuse of office by Chisango, his staff and the councilors.

This is according to a report by the official Herald newspaper on Tuesday.

“Corruption has a direct and adverse effect on the society within which it is practised. There is no better illustration of this fact than the dire circumstances that residents of Harare and other urban centres find themselves in.

“Service delivery in Harare has deteriorated to such an extent that garbage collection is almost non-existent in most suburbs with many urban centres going for decades without running water.

“It is for that reason that urban city councils have been targeted in the anti-corruption fight. The results of this deliberate thrust are evident. Currently, investigations are being carried out on the alleged irregular handling of a US$1 000 000 000 tender by the Harare City Council with the role of the Harare Town Clerk being placed under serious scrutiny,” said the report.

The ZACC, often accused of failure to bite and lack of independence amid manipulation by politicians, has in recent months investigated, arrested and taken to court, numerous high-profile individuals, in collaboration with SACU and the police.

The individuals include Douglas Nyakutsikwa, the commissioner who heads the Police Internal Security and Intelligence Unit (PISI) and Crispen Charumbira who heads the police Criminal Investigations Department (CID).

Law enforcement agencies have also arrested cabinet ministers, prominent businesspeople and local authority officials whose cases are still pending in the courts.

Convictions of criminals have been made too, but they remain modest.

“The success of the Anti-corruption Programme in Zimbabwe will rely substantially on the integrity of our law enforcement agents and a Judiciary beyond reproach. To achieve this, these agencies are undergoing a cleaning up exercise that has seen the ejection of those with corrupt tendencies from these institutions,” added Mpofu in his report. 

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