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MPs demand transparency on road fund

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MEMBERS of Parliament have called for transparency from local authorities in how they spend billions of dollars allocated to them by the Zimbabwe National Road Administration (Zinara), saying those found wanting must be arrested. 

MOSES MATENGA

The calls come after Zinara on Tuesday said it will disburse more than ZW$17 billion for road works this year to local authorities to rehabilitate roads in a deplorable state. 

Shurugwi North MP Ronald Nyathi asked the government during a question-and-answer session in Parliament on Wednesday why roads across the country were in a sorry state despite revelation by Zinara that it was pouring billions of dollars into rehabilitation.

“The Zinara chairman, (Dr) George Manyaya indicated that in 2021, there was a disbursement of Z$9 billion to different local authorities but he also indicated that two weeks from now there will be an allocation of Z$17 billion. My question is that since the funds disbursed last year to local authorities were not utilised properly, what steps is government going to take to make sure that these monies are going to be used properly in road rehabilitation programmes in different cities and towns?” Nyathi asked. 

Mberengwa East MP Marko Raidza also asked why Zinara was not considering introducing a monitoring and evaluation department to ensure everything was being done properly by the local authorities. 

“Is it not fit for Zinara to have another department which concentrates on monitoring and evaluation of all the jobs they have done for rehabilitation to make sure that everything is being done properly?” he asked.

Raidza said the residents who were supposed to benefit from the road rehabilitation programmes end up not benefitting amid suspicions of corruption by the councils.

Justice minister Ziyambi Ziyambi, who is also the leader of government business in Parliament, said it was critical to capacitate local authorities in dealing with public funds and those who will be found on the wrong of the law must be arrested. 

Ziyambi also said it was not the responsibility of Zinara to provide monitoring and evaluation as its sole mandate was to mobilise funds for the rehabilitation of roads. 

“It is not Zinara’s job to look for engineers and doing monitoring and evaluation. Hence, councils must be capacitated so that they can execute their jobs properly. The ministry of Transport must have a department for monitoring and evaluation so that Zinara can continue to mobilise funds for the rehabilitation of roads.”

On suspicions local authorities may be looting or diverting the Zinara funds, Ziyambi said: “If there are no concerns and at times there might not be any pilfering of money but there will not be a proper reconciliation, then there is no need for prosecuting people if there is no crime. When a crime is committed and when people have stolen money, then legal action is taken.  I did not say that steps should not be taken, but if a crime is committed there should be prosecution.”

Speaking on the sidelines of the Tuesday event at Zinara headquarters, acting Harare mayor Stewart Mutizwa confirmed yesterday that the city received over ZW$1.4 billion that he said did not do much by way of road rehabilitation as it was a pittance.

“We received our allocation for 2021 and it was around ZW$1.4 billion and it is not much and can’t tell off head how much it covers. It was mainly for pothole patching. We are now waiting for 2022 and they have promised around ZW$2.8 billion but the roads we have covered were mainly drainage clearance and pothole patching. Even the uniforms you see written RRP were bought by the Zinara money,” he said. 

According to Ziyambi, it is the responsibility of local authorities to hire contractors and prudently manage the resources availed for road rehabilitation while some MPs suggested that the monitoring and evaluation of the projects be done by Zinara. 

Asked how much road rehabilitation the ZW$17 billion for 59 local authorities availed by Zinara would cover and how much a kilometre of road would cost to resurface,  Zinara technical services director Moses Chigonyati said the cost of rehabilitating roads differs, depending on the amount of work that needs to be done. 

“It depends on many factors, including the surface you will be working on. Costs are also determined by your design of the surface. It will also depend on the thickness, but what is important to note is that we are not in construction of new roads but preserving the roads that are already there,” Chigonyati said.  

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