Innocent Ruwende Municipal Reporter
Harare City Council has conceded that it lacks employees with capacity to negotiate multi-million-dollar deals with local and foreign firms interested in partnering it in implementing projects, and is reportedly set to appoint a local bank as its financial and investment advisor.
This comes after most of the deals entered by the city have been questioned by experts who accused the city of unnecessarily mortgaging residents in most cases.
Acting town clerk Mrs Josephine Ncube, recently recommended to the Finance and Development Committee the appointment of the Infrastructure Development Bank of Zimbabwe (IDBZ) as the financial and investment advisor of council at no cost to the city.
She reported that the bank had a broad-based shareholding, including Government of Zimbabwe, local institutional investors and foreign development financial institutions.
Mrs Ncube said the engagement of the bank was beneficial to council as the bank would also facilitate the raising of long term funding such as municipal bonds and other financing options as well as act as the investment advisor for council investment in joint ventures and Build, Operate and Transfer initiatives.
Some of the poorly negotiated deals include the water and sewage deal with a Chinese firm whose project cost that was allegedly inflated.
The city council quoted the deal at about $144,4 million but a consultant engineer wrote a scathing report in which he said the value was grossly inflated.
Harare signed a loan agreement with the Export and Import Bank of China for China National Machinery and Equipment Import and Export Corporation to rehabilitate water and sewage plants.
City residents will contribute to repaying that loan through water charges.
The city also entered a deal with Easi-Hold of South Africa for joint venture management of on-street and off-street parking.
It is alleged EasiHold did not bring anything to the partnership, since it was hiring the equipment from a South African company with the hire charges being paid by Easipark Harare.
The city and EasiHold (Pvt) Ltd have since separated in an agreement that will see the city forking out $274 000 as part of the parting terms.