Local Government minister July Moyo has ordered Civil Protection Unit (CPU) boss Nathan Nkomo to “expeditiously” release the $500 000 meant for a mobile water treatment plant after Harare City Council withheld the money demanding a performance bond from the contractor.
BY XOLISANI NCUBE
Cabinet in September approved a deal for Connect Water (Pvt) Ltd to establish a mobile water treatment plant.
But up to date, no payment has been processed despite Treasury availing the funds as grant to council through the CPU.
According to a memo seen by NewsDay, Moyo instructed his ministry’s secretary George Magosvongwe to pay Connect Water $545 123 for the project and on the same date, the secretary instructed Nkomo to process the money.
“Authorisation is hereby granted for the payment of Connect Water for the amount of $545 123 for the installation of mobile treatment plant at Gletywin Dam from the national civil protection fund,” part of the memo read.
Despite the memo, no payment was made, as Nkomo and council demanded a performance guarantee from the contractor.
Communication seen indicates that Moyo in November again instructed Nkomo to make the payment, as the contract was awarded by Cabinet as an emergency relief programme to avert the spread of cholera.
Now, Moyo again has instructed the payment to be made after a local bank representing the contractor had issued a bond, which council said should not be directed at them as they were not the direct customer of the deal, but beneficiaries of the grant.
A letter written by Ecobank to Connect Water chief executive officer Smolly Moyo and attached to letters sent to the minister indicates that council refused to accept a performance bond from the bank on behalf of the contractor, stating that such a guarantee should be addressed to the CPU.
“Reference is made to your letter dated January 8, 2019, whereby you applied for a performance guarantee in favour of Harare City Council. We engaged the authorities and they advised us that the guarantee is not for them,” part of the bank’s letter, signed by Ecobank head corporate and investment banking Christopher Mutasa, read.
Harare town clerk Hosiah Chisango confirmed that council, working with CPU, refused to release the money until Connect Water provided a performance bond to guarantee delivery of the equipment.
The delay has, however, infuriated Harare residents, who through Community Water Alliance, now want to know whether the funds availed by government were still in the CPU fund.
Mabvuku is one of the suburbs that council has not been servicing with tap water for more than two decades, and the mobile treatment plant was touted to be the solution to the perennial water woes.
In the 2019 budget, council had set aside $3 million for the establishment of a mobile treatment plant, and with the initial injection from government, water woes were bound to ease.
At the moment, council is producing less than 300 megalitres per day against a demand of 1 200 megalitres, and 50% of that is being lost through leakages.