The $144 million loan between the City of Harare and China Exim Bank to rehabilitate Harare’s water and sewage infrastructure has been in the news a lot lately. First it was the fact of the loan – and the hopes that the deal would restore water to our taps. Then there were reports of fund mismanagement, including the purchasing of luxury vehicles for city managers with project funds. Most recently, project equipment was being held at the border (despite being duty free) allegedly in exchange for the city settling some of its outstanding debt with ZIMRA.

A special committee to review the spending and management of the water rehabilitation loan was established, and their report came out 18 July.

Regarding the luxury motor vehicle purchases, the report notes that while the cost of the luxury cars in question is nominal in comparison with the total loan, there was no explanation or justification on why project team vehicles were prioritised over service vehicles for the project, why expensive, luxury vehicles were purchased, and why these vehicles have been allocated for team members who do more meeting in their work days than they do service visits or field work. The report also raises questions about the costing, procurement procedure and oversight of the vehicle purchase.

But more important, the report raises a number of concerns about the spending and management of the water project as a whole, among them:

  • The agreement between the City of Harare and the China National Machinery and Equipment Import and Export Corporation (CMEC) to rehabilitate the water and sewage works was signed in 2009.  The loan to finance this contract was signed between the Government of Zimbabwe and the Export and Import Bank of China (Exim Bank) in 2011. And the loan facility was ratified and approved in 2013. So it’s taken four years just to get the ball rolling. In the mean time, Harare’s water provision has worsened, and increasingly residents do not receive water in their taps. This reality doesn’t seem to have given much sense of urgency to the city, however.
  • The team implementing the water rehabilitation project are existing, full time, City of Harare employees. Their duties, responsibilities and deliverables in connection with the water rehabilitation project have not been specifically outlined.
  • Some project team members lack the required competencies and experience to delivery on the project, in particular the legal adviser and logistics management.
  • There is inadequate legal, commercial, contract management, logistics, procurement and project finance skills.
  • There is not a strong system to motivate employees to deliver on this project specifically.
  • About six months into the project, it is at least 25 days behind schedule.
  • Time, price and quality issues stand in the way of successful implementation of the project.
  • The contract was not negotiated very well, and has a number of unclear clauses, overstated prices, and terms which are in favour of the contractor and open to abusive interpretation.
  • Of the $144m loan, $84m has been disbursed, and $5.5m worth of goods and services have been delivered and/or rendered to date. So, about 58% of the loan has been disbursed to CMEC, but no substantive works on water rehabilitation has begun.
  • It would appear there is no project accounting report or internal audit reports for the project. This makes it hard to track and identify both errors and mistakes and willful misstatements of accounting. It would also help the project team hold the contractor to account.
  • An estimated $8 million in savings is possible now that the project has been granted National Project Status, but the project team members don’t seem to be aware of this possible savings. The savings needs to be reported to reduce the risk it is misused.
  • The labour charge for the project is $28 million, being 38% of the value of fitted equipment. This is three times the industry norm for a refurbishment contract. In the absence of any explanation for these figures, there is an implication of overcharging for labour around $20 million.
  • A number of existing pumps were removed or decommissioned before their replacements were to hand. This has resulted in a significant loss of water production capacity, and a related loss of would-be water revenue to the city. This is effectively a cost of the project which should be accounted for in the project implementation.

Download the full report here

Harare street signs

tree_sign_140725

True Jack-of-all-trades. Note the bottle tops to help keep the sign up.

resident_cards_140725

Zimbabwean residents get active!

Here’s some feedback from a Kubatana member:

Pamberi neKubatana for accountability and service delivery!

Just got my Resident business card. Was sweating because I thought it was a court order given the size of the envelope.

Will put this to good use tomorrow.

Many thanks for the initiative.

eve_ensler_140725

Playwright Eve Ensler is in Zimbabwe together with Monique Wilson, the Director of V-Day. Ensler’s play, the Vagina Monologues has been produced in over 140 countries and in various languages. She attributes her desire to fighting sexual violence against women to the many women who lined up to talk to her after performing the Vagina Monologues who shared stories of how they have been abuse, raped or beaten. She expected these women to share with her their wonderful sexual experiences, pleasure, desire but the opposite was what she heard.

The idea of One Billion Rising came at a time when Ensler was recovering from cancer and when she visited the DRC where women danced at the opening official opening of a centre, “City of Joy’. “Women in Congo danced, while they were dancing and I was dancing, I suddenly had this idea. I had been obsessed with this notion that if one billion women and men rose one day and danced on the planet, what kind of vibrational, energetic transformation could we have.” According to UN figures, one in three women on the planet will be beaten or sexually assaulted and that works out at one billion women.

Zimbabwe has in the past two years celebrated One Billion Rising (OBR).

The campaign which uses dance as activism has become a global movement as many men and women across the globe rise on February 14.

Speaking at a press conference in Harare, she said, “Dancing allows us to be in our bodies, to reclaim our bodies. It allows us to be free in public space and to connect with one another. It really allows the vibrational and spiritual energy of the planet to be released rather than contained. So much happens when we are traumatized, violated. All the energy gets stopped, it’s caught, it gets muted, and it gets destroyed.”

Monique Wilson added, “In Philippines, when we began dancing, people began to wake up and take notice and gave us another lens to the very same issues we have been fighting for 30 years. Dance is an important tool to awaken people and incite action.”

Speaking at the same conference, Nyasha Sengayi, the coordinator for One Billion Rising in Zimbabwe let people know about their next campaign, ‘Stop the Bus’ in collaboration with The Girl’s Legacy. A bus with a lawyer, police officer, a nurse, a counselor and women activists will be moving around communities in Bikita, Mutoko, Gokwe, Seke and Chitungwiza.

The campaign will be launched in August against a backdrop of the high number of unreported cases of sexual violence in Zimbabwe.

We got this today from a WhatsApp subscriber:

“Chegutu Municipality has contaminated Mupfure River with sewage which they are pumping into the river. At Chinhoyi Road Bridge you can see just how dangerous it is. The water is now green.”

From a WhatsApp subscriber:

“I am traveling from Chitungwiza to Harare. Now at the bridge near water works. What surprise me is that ‘ the police’ is mounting a roadblock about 20m from the bridge. Is it not a potential disaster at hand. What does the traffic safety regulation prescribe? I think there is something about it and it shld be stopped before any harm is caused. Please help”

SAPES Trust Policy Dialogue Forum

Date: Thursday 31 July 2014
Time: 5pm – 7pm
Venue: SAPES Seminar Room, 4 Deary Avenue, Belgravia, Harare

Topic: EU – Zimbabwe relations: Demystifying a few myths

Speaker: H.E. Aldo Dell’Aricca – Head of EU Delegation to Zimbabwe

Chair: Dr Ibbo Mandaza

All Welcome. SAPES Seminar Series Membership Forms available at entrance. Feel free to visit our website at www.sapes.org.zw

The BBC reports that in Burundi a bill was passed and is waiting to be signed into law, which has new regulations that require churches to have at least 500 members and a proper building.

Now I read in NewsDay that the Zimbabwe government is proposing to register churches. So if a law is passed in Zimbabwe for registering or regulating churches there will be pros and cons like any other law. On the one side of the coin, with consideration of what has been happening in our churches of late regarding the abuse of women and the clash between church members and the police, one might see such a law as the way forward.

However, such a law may further erode the right to freedom of association. I foresee the ruling party using such a law to their advantage in the next elections. They may use this law to regulate churches, which might be thought of associating with the opposition, thereby infringing on the rights of ordinary people.

An interview with Memory Zidaka

CHIPAWO benefits and empowers children and society for prosperity, unity and peace through participatory arts education in Zimbabwe, Africa and the world. CHIPAWO which literally means “give also or give too” was formed in 1989 with the vision of ensuring that through the arts children know and appreciate our local culture in Zimbabwe and Africa as a whole. As a child driven organization CHIPAWO’s mission is to develop excellent talent, originality, knowledge and enjoyment in the learning and practice of arts and culture.

What led to your decision to start the organization?
The idea was to give children a place where they would express their talents through learning their culture and heritage and have fun with their talents.

Who plays the leading role in this important work?
Through the passion that they have I would say the children themselves take leading roles in CHIPAWO activities. Children and youth are in charge of the day-to-day operations of the organization from administration to stage performances.

Programmes
We have an outreach programme called Bringing CHIPAWO to More Children, which seeks to benefit underprivileged children who cannot access CHIPAWO’s art programmes outside Harare.

The Arts Education for Development is a programme being run by CHIPAWO where arts educators go to different schools to teach arts to children. Through this programme children receive training in music, traditional and modern dance.

Under a one year long project called Youth Empowerment through Performing Arts (YETPA) youths go through various modules on skills empowerment in art performance and how to make a living out of the performing arts.

Do you feel that you are making a significant contribution to these children and youths?
Definitely we are. Firstly we are moulding children’s talent into becoming professional artists so we are giving them a chance to make a living out of their own talent. A CHIPAWO child has that extra confidence compared to other children!

Which success stories are you most proud of?
We have had plenty of success stories as CHIPAWO, for example we now have a television show running on Zimbabwe Broadcasting Corporation called Ndeipi Gen’a. The show, which is about educating young people on life challenges, has become very popular.

As CHIPAWO we are proud to have some of our former students making it out there. For example, Danai Gurira is doing great in acting and Farai Ruzvidzo is producing the Ndeipi Gen’a television show.

We have had a student’s exchange program with India recently and we were invited to perform at a children’s festival in Germany last year, and CHIPAWO is currently preparing for another trip to that country next week to perform at the same festival after getting a second invite.

Every end of year CHIPAWO hosts a Christmas show where we invite other sister organisations like CHIPAWO Botswana (CHIPABO) and CHIPAWO Namibia (CHINAMIBIA) to come and perform.

CHIPAWO will be turning 25 years this year and we will be hosting the CHIPAWO @ 25 celebrations sometime in September.

Last week Chitungwiza Town Council employees ended a two week long job action amid threats of imprisonment of up to five years by the Minister of Public Service, Labour and Social Welfare. Bearing the same brunt of economic hardships being experienced by each and every Zimbabwean surely going for thirteen months without salary is enough justification to down tools. Council lawyers are arguing that there was no justification for the strike hence workers should terminate the industrial action and report for duty. Instead of engaging the workers to resolve the impasse the Minister Of Public Service and Chitungwiza town council resorted to the use of force to instill fear among the already suffering employees. By denying council workers their right to protest the responsible minister seems to be serving the interests of the town council while ignoring the plight of the workers who had to go for almost thirteen months on empty stomachs.