The Combined Harare Residents Association (CHRA) has called for transparency and accountability on the administration of the recent water and wastewater deals worth US$868 million to be signed between the Harare City Council and Chinese firms.
The Harare City Council approved the signing of the deals on October 7, 2019.
CHRA’s call for transparency and accountability comes in the wake of previous deals worth millions of dollars having failed to improve the water situation in Harare due to misuse of funds.
The issue of the US$144 Million Chinese loan is a case in point following revelations of misuse of the first US$72 million that had been released to council. What followed after the release of the US$72 Million was a blame game between officials and consequently, the remaining USD$72 Million was withheld.
And it is being said that the President, Emmerson Mnangagwa is making frantic efforts for the release of the other US$72 Million.
“On the latest US$868 Million water and wastewater deals, we implore the government, in this case as the guarantor of the deals to comply with section 300 (3) of the Constitution of Zimbabwe which states that, “Within sixty days after the Government has concluded a loan agreement or guarantee, the Minister responsible for finance must cause its terms to be published in the Gazette.”
“CHRA expects the Minister of Finance to follow the law in the administration of these loans by giving updates to the Parliament of Zimbabwe on the performance of these loans in line with section 300 (4) (a) (ii) of the Constitution,” the association said in a statement.
In line with its efforts to ensure that the dire water situation in Harare is addressed, CHRA said it will keep an eye on any deliberate circumventing of accountability mechanisms.
It called upon the City of Harare to be accountable and disclose all the information and conditions related to the loan to the public.
This is line with Section 62 (1) of the Constitution states: “Every Zimbabwean citizen or permanent resident, including juristic persons and the Zimbabwean media, has the right of access to any information held by the State or by any institution or agency of government at every level, in so far as the information is required in the interests of public accountability.”
“As CHRA, we will also push for the establishment of a citizen monitoring taskforce before any disbursement of the loans. Any abuse of water funds as witnessed in the past is a serious threat to water security. We have noted that in the case of the recent US$868 Million loans, land will be used as security and we sincerely hope that this is not another way of selling Harare.
“CHRA will be mobilising grassroots communities, CSOs, and Residents Associations in demanding transparency and accountability on the water deals. We would also like to urge parliamentarians to defend the Constitution by reclaiming their role in scrutinising and approving loans acquired by the government.”