KAROI Town Council is locked in a legal battle with vehicle supplier Solution Motors after the company failed to deliver a refuse truck ordered by the local authority in 2017.
Solution Motors has been under the spotlight after being accused by the Zimbabwean government of failing to deliver vehicles worth US$207 540 worth by December 2018.
This was revealed by the Auditor-General’s 2018 report. The department of irrigation in the ministry of Agriculture bought 10 vehicles worth US$518 850 from Solutions Motors.
Of the ordered vehicles, only six were delivered with the remaining four worth US$207 540 not delivered as at the end of 2018.
The ministry of Agriculture was supposed to receive three Toyota Hilux 2.4 (4×4) double cabs and three Nissan NP300 (4×4) single cabs within a six-week period after the tender was awarded to Solutions Motors in December 2017.
Of these, two Toyota Hilux and two Nissan vehicles remain undelivered.
According to an arbitration award delivered on 12 July 2019 before commercial arbitrator Susan Mutangadura, Solution Motors was ordered to give a brand new Nissan UD truck to the council.
Solution Motors was represented by Cathew Manyani of TH Chitapi Legal Practioners while Prince Mahembe of Mangwana and Partners represented council during the pre-arbitration proceedings.
In her finding, Mutangadura ordered Solution Motors as respondent ‘‘to deliver to Karoi Town Council a brand new 20 cubic self-weighing refuse UD truck or a similar model within a period of 8 to 12 weeks of the date of arbitral award’’.
Part of the arbitration award reads: ‘‘In the event that the respondent fails to provide the said truck as said in this order, it is hereby ordered that the agreement of sale between the two parties is cancelled and respondent shall pay damages to the claimant being equivalent to 70 percent of the value of the same or similar refuse truck as provided in the agreement of sale entered into by the parties on 20 July 2017.’’
The arbitrator noted that the claimant (Karoi Town Council) successfully established ‘‘breach of contract and entitlement to damages”.
However, Karoi council was directed to pay 100% arbitration fees for the proceedings including administration to the Commercial Arbitration Centre.
But Solution Motors founder and managing director Patrick Siyawamwaya claimed the company reimbursed the council after breaching the contract.
In a telephone interview, Siyawamwaya said the company had failed to access foreign currency due to inflation rates by the time they intended to supply the car.
‘‘Our main challenge was that council paid the deposit of $109 000 as deposit of the total value of $156 000 of the refuse truck. The deposit part payment was done in RTGS then and we had to source forex. It was only paid after 10 months and the (vehicle) model council wanted was no longer available. We have since deposited the money to council.’’
When challenged to avail proof of payment, Siyawamwaya had not done so at the time of writing.
Asked why his company had shortchanged the government, he defended himself, saying he was being attacked by detractors.
‘‘I have suffered enough of bad publicity with allegations that I’m related to Kudakwashe Tagwirei of Sakunda Holdings and am using his name and political muscle to get tenders from councils and government. This is all false as we are a company that abides by the laws of the country,” said Siyawamwaya.
Karoi Town Council has come under fire after it revealed that it will buy another refuse truck using a disbursement from the government’s ZW$400 million devolution fund, despite winning a court order with regards to the undelivered truck almost two years ago.
Karoi Residents’ Trust (Karest) director Travo Chiwanga blamed the council procurement committee for failing to cross-check the supplier’s background.
‘‘Residents demand accountability and transparency for social justice. There was no due diligence through investigation on supplier’s background. The local council should not have awarded a tender to a company that had the temerity to dupe the government. You do not enter into a business with a company that has a dodgy past if you are doing this for public office,’’ said Chiwanga.
Karoi Urban Residents’ Association chairperson Trymore Chinembiri added his voice, saying the undelivered refuse truck saga “stinks and must be investigated”.
‘‘As much as the council got an (arbitration) award in its favour, it exposes how there are grey areas where public funds are involved.’’
But council chairperson Abel Matsika noted with concern how Solution Motors was not being honest.
‘‘As council, we won an arbitration award after Solution Motors failed to deliver the refuse truck. It is our hope that the writ will be executed so that the court attaches property for us to recover the money.
“This is a High Court order they even agreed with. The time frame has passed and we want the law to take its course as these are public funds that we must account for through service delivery,” said Matsika.