Chinese demand $10m for non-existent water works

chinese_flagHARARE - A Chinese company with Zanu (PF) links is demanding millions of dollars from the Harare City Council for payment of dubious and non-existent water pipe replacement contracts signed before the formation of the inclusive government.

Sources at Town House told The Zimbabwean that China Electrical and Metallurgical Company (CEMC) was given a contract by the Zimbabwe Water Authority (ZINWA) and the government to replace obsolete water pipes in Harare in 2007 and 2008, but the company hardly did any work and was now demanding payment.

An official at Town House said the Chinese company was only involved in the replacement of water pipes at a small portion of Gunhill suburb and Marimba, but was now demanding payment of close to US$10 million. Council is resisting paying the Chinese because it was ZINWA and government which engaged them in the first place and we have since discovered that on the ground the company did close to nothing, he said.

The official said the Chinese company has also constructed a massive structure at the former Warren Park dump site, allocated to them by council for the sole purpose of storing equipment. Everyone is baffled at what the Chinese are doing in this massive building which has not been approved by Council. No one is allowed to enter this building. We suspect that they are illegally manufacturing something there, but no one dares to enter the premises because these guys have the protection of senior officials in government, he said.

The official said CEMC is linked to Vice President Joyce Mujuru, Local government minister Ignatius Chombo and former minister of Water Resources, Walter Mzembi, who were all said to have imposed the company on ZINWA. The company was also said to have been promised council land in exchange for doing other Zanu (PF) projects, including rehabilitating irrigation and dams at farms of party officials. Both Harare town clerk, Tendai Mahachi and the city’s spokesperson, Leslie Gwindi, could not be reached for comment as their mobile phones were off.

A few years ago, the Zanu government handed over the running of urban water and sewer services to ZINWA, which was accused of giving tenders for the procurement of vital water treatment chemicals to companies owned by ruling party officials, resulting in the collapse of services.

One of the companies was Highdon Investments, owned by Macdonald Chapfika, while President Mugabe’s nephew, Leo Mugabe also had a contract to provide services to ZINWA. The running of water and sewer services has since reverted to the local authorities after ZINWA failed dismally – largely due to looting, mismanagement and interference by government.

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