Saturday, August 11, 2012

(SUNDAY MAIL ZW) Councillors get kickbacks from chemical suppliers’

Councillors get kickbacks from chemical suppliers’
Sunday, 05 August 2012 12:36
Municipal reporter

Some Harare city councillors have been accused of awarding tenders for the supply of water treatment chemicals to shady and incompetent companies that offer them kickbacks.

The allegations surfaced at a stormy full council meeting held at Town House on Friday. The meeting came in the wake of reports that one of the companies contracted to provide water treatment chemicals to the city delivered poisonous sodium cyanide, instead of aluminium sulphate solution, to Harare’s Morton Jaffray Waterworks.
Only the swift reaction of an alert council worker saved the day. Newly appointed Harare special interest councillor Dr Joseph Kanyekanye queried why the city was importing water treatment chemicals when there are local companies that offer the same products at much cheaper prices.

“There is no need for the importation of chemicals at such a high cost,” he said.

“There are local companies such as Zimphos that also produce the aluminium sulphate at much cheaper rates. From the survey that I did it I have realised that it is cheaper for us to buy chemicals from Zimphos than from all the 37 companies that council has been dealing with.

“It will be a shame if we allow this to go on. It’s also worth mentioning that some of the companies that are ripping council off are linked to politicians or are owned by some former council employees.”

But in a contribution that shocked the house, Warren Park Councillor Julius Musevenzi urged the city fathers to stick with the controversial importation of water treatment chemicals.

“We have to note that the importation of chemicals is not a shame like what Dr Kanyekanye said. It is unfortunate that our colleague joined us very late so he might not be well versed with the issues of procuring chemicals.

“Harare needs clean water but we have dealt many times with Zimphos but they failed to deliver the full supply of the goods. Last year the city ordered 12 000 metric tonnes of granules but they failed to deliver the whole supply, giving us only 5 000 tonnes which was not enough at the time,” said Cllr Musevenzi.

Cllr Musevenzi said although the city would prefer to procure water chemicals from the local companies at a lower price, most of the companies did not have the capacity to meet the demand.

“Most of the companies do not have the capacity to meet the supply that we want. The local companies are not producing to full capacity, that is why we have to prioritise other companies, not fall in crisis of the water chemicals,” he said.

However, in a statement last week Chemplex Corporation, Zimphos’ parent company, dispelled the notion that the company has not capacity to meet Harare water treatment chemical needs.

“The Zimphos alum manufacturing plant in Harare was built specifically for the City of Harare waterworks and has the capacity to produce over 60 000 tonnes per year of liquid aluminium sulphate plus another 12 000 tonnes per year of solid granular aluminium sulphate for other municipalities. This capacity is adequate to meet the City’s full requirements…

“It is unfortunate for the city and the country in general when Harare City Council compromises water treatment by not exploiting readily available capacity at Zimphos which offers competitively priced quality products in preference to expensive imports …,” reads part of the statement.

Commenting on the matter, Harare Residents’ Trust director Mr Precious Shumba noted that councillors do not have the technical expertise needed to decide on the procurement of water treatment chemicals.

“Information we gathered revealed that councillors are not the competent people to procure chemicals and approve tenders. Most of them do not have knowledge of what they will be doing.

“Most tenders in council are approved by councillors in a bid to get kickbacks which, in turn, compromises service delivery,” he said.

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