LOCAL government minister July Moyo was this Monday the subject of another corruption allegation storm over the procurement of fire-fighting vehicles from Belarus.
Moyo is reportedly under investigation by the Zimbabwe Anti-Corruption Commission (ZACC) over a US$9,3 million scandal involving the rehabilitation of pumps at Harare’s Morton Jeffray Water Works in 2019.
The claimed scandal was reported to ZACC by independent Norton legislator Temba Mliswa who has since written to the anti-graft body again alleging that Moyo was involved in similar fraudulent deals with other local authorities around the country.
And as the sleaze charges against the long-time close ally of President Emmerson Mnangagwa pile up, it emerged Monday that Moyo had ordered the procurement of fire fighting vehicles from Belarus at allegedly inflated prices.
In a letter to city and town councils supposedly from the local government permanent secretary’s office, the Ministry indicated that it was procuring fire tenders from Belarus whose authoritarian president Alexander Lukashenko is a close ally of Mnangagwa.
“The funds to procure the equipment will be deducted from the 2022 Devolution allocations and will be done over a period of twelve months starting March 2022. the cost of each fire tender is USD464,296.
“It is therefore advisable for local authorities to reprioritise the Devolution funds to accommodate the cost of the fire tenders.”
Critics immediately accused the local government Ministry of inflating the cost of the fire tenders, some indicating that similar vehicles were much much cheaper online.
Said opposition Citizens Coalition for Change (CCC) politician Jameson Timba on Twitter;
Another Pomona sick deal. Devolution means local authorities determine their own priorities. This is rubbish and a corrupt deal to fund the ruling party. Where on earth do you buy a fire tender for that price.? #ZanupfMustBeStopped. pic.twitter.com/4Tl2VBgkjY
— Jameson Z. Timba (@JamesonTimba) June 20, 2022
Reached for comment on the saga, information ministry permanent secretary Nick Mangwana said, “I have seen the letter (from the local government Ministry) but I haven’t had the chance to verify its authenticity.
“That said, it doesn’t change the fact that the notion that the prices are inflated or fraudulent is based on ignorance and lack of exposure. They are alleging that a price of $464,000 for a fire tender is inflated! Really?
“People that know nothing about statecraft go on eBay to look for comparative prices and then take those prices as indicative of comparative values. A brand new fire tender costs around £400 000 which is closer the US$1/2 million per tender; that’s the UK value.
“So, really there is no issue as far as the price is concerned. People focus of these narrow political interests ignoring the fact that people are burning to cinder after an accident because there is no modern equipment to rescue them. Govt makes that a priority and all they can do is to pursue those ignorance based parochial interests.”
The Harare government procured some 11 firefighting vehicles from Belarus last year to help fight veld fires.
“We are very pleased to be able to provide the latest firefighting technology to our African friends,” said the Belarus deputy industry minister Dmitry Kharitonchyk at the time.
“Forest fires are a danger for all of humanity, and our manufacturers have provided a well-tested rugged solution for tackling these fires.”