BULAWAYO, June 2 (The Source) — Cash-strapped Bulawayo City Council (BCC) was forced to fund the cost of a government investigation into alleged mishandling of a $60 million property development in the city, latest council minutes show.
BCC last year awarded South African civil engineering firm, Terracorta, a contract to develop a transport hub and shopping mall at Basch Street Terminus, popularly known as Egodini.
The project, valued at $60 million, is on a build, operate and transfer basis and will come at no cost to council, officials say. The city will ultimately own it once Terracotta has recouped its investment.
However, following the signing of the agreement last year, squabbles over the project began and recently, Local Government Minister Savior Kasukuwere dispatched a team to look into alleged mishandling of contracts and tender procedures as well as improper allocation of stands to councilors.
According to the latest council minutes, acting town clerk Sikhangezile Zhou reported on May 4, 2016, that council was ordered to meet the cost of the investigation which commenced its work on May 3.
In accordance with government rates, Zhou said each officer would be paid an unproved allowance of $75 per day for the 14-day stay in Bulawayo.
“Council was also required to pay (an additional) $2,000 to the chairperson and $1,500 to each member of the committee. This added to a total of $18,350 for the entire investigation. The government vehicles used by the investigators were also to be fuelled by council,” Zhou reported.
While the council accepted that this was a ministerial directive, councillors were concerned that BCC had to fund the investigation at a time when it was facing a financial crisis.
BCC owes its creditors more than $122 million and is struggling to settle the debt.