THE war over road rehabilitation fund disbursements between Harare mayor Jacob Mafume and the Zimbabwe National Roads Association (Zinara) yesterday escalated, with the latter releasing a schedule of amounts distributed to all local authorities.
According to the schedule, Harare City Council was allocated ZW$1.7 billion and a total disbursement of ZW$1.4 billion was released into council coffers as at 31 December 2022.
However, Mafume on Wednesday complained that Zinara had not released funds to the local authority, resulting in Harare failing to rehabilitate roads that are in a deplorable state.
Posting on Twitter, the mayor accused the government of snatching the responsibility of collecting vehicle licence fees from city councils and handing it to Zinara which he alleged was failing to disburse the funds to the local authorities.
“That is when the problems of failure to repair and maintain roads and the attendant infrastructure began and the results are visible on the ground for all to see,” Mafume had said.
However on Thursday, Zinara said the process of disbursing the funds to the local authorities in some instances took longer because of the need for them to submit due diligence reports to Treasury.
The due diligence reports were meant to confirm whether the pricing in each funding request was fair, before Zinara effected payments. It was part of the government’s efforts to realise value for money from the contracts entered between the road authorities and their suppliers.
Zinara said the funds it released to local authorities including Harare were not meant for construction of new roads or rehabilitation of those in new residential areas which are not gazetted.
“In terms of the law, it is fundamentally critical to highlight that the funds disbursed by Zinara are meant for road rehabilitation and maintenance and not for the construction of new roads,” Zinara said.
“Furthermore, the roads to be maintained should have been gazetted for them to qualify for Zinara funding. It is imperative to note that most roads that are being constructed in new residential areas in various towns and cities are not gazetted and therefore do not qualify to be rehabilitated or maintained using Zinara funds.
“Zinara also wants the nation to know that the construction of new roads does not fall within the purview of its mandate and that it does not prescribe to Road Authorities on which roads to prioritise in terms of maintenance and rehabilitation in their areas of jurisdiction.”
“In 2022, it is key for the nation to appreciate the model under which road works were undertaken in various areas. Apart from the works that were done by the Road Authorities on their own, other road works were done by the Government through the Emergency Road Rehabilitation Programme. Several roads especially in major cities were attended to under this arrangement.”
On Wednesday afternoon, Zinara chief executive officer Nkosinathi Ncube directly took aim at Mafume, accusing the opposition Citizens’ Coalition for Change politician of peddling falsehoods and grandstanding.
“Whilst we don’t want to respond to rhetoric, we feel duty bound to inform the nation with facts on certain inaccuracies,” Ncube said, adding: “Firstly, we want to categorically state that Zinara has consistently disbursed funds for road rehabilitation and maintenance to all the Road Authorities, City of Harare included.
“According to the dictates of the Roads Act, a Road Authority can only access a new disbursement from Zinara after acquitting its previous disbursement.”
According to the latest schedule of disbursements, as at 31 December 2022, Zinara said it had disbursed a grand total of ZW$30 609 119 156, which translates to US$86 million at the inter-bank rate to all urban and rural councils across the country.
The amount, according to Zinara, covered the supplementary budget that was also approved during the course of the year. Zinara’s initial budget for disbursements for 2022 was ZW$17 billion, but to cater for other variables during the year the amount was later reviewed to ZW$30.6 billion through a supplementary budget.
The supplementary budget was made available to cover costs that the Road Authorities incurred in their existing contracts because of movements in the exchange rate and other factors. According to a breakdown of the Zinara disbursements obtained by The NewsHawks, Harare metropolitan province got the highest share at ZW$2 billion (US$2.4 million).
The money was disbursed into the province’s major areas which are Harare Urban, Chitungwiza (ZW$147 million) Epworth (ZW$68.6 million) and Ruwa (ZW$68.5 million).
Zinara also revealed the disbursements made to other provinces. Manicaland got ZW$607 million, Mashonaland Central ZW$483 million, Mashonaland East ZW$620 million, Matabeleland North ZW$422 million, Bulawayo ZW$266 million, Matabeleland South ZW$225 million, Mashonaland West ZW$976 million, Masvingo ZW$469 million and Matabeleland North ZW$158 million.
The Midlands was divided into two in the disbursements with Rural District Councils being separated from urban councils. Urban councils got a total of ZW$472 million, while the RDCs shared ZW$419 million.
“Zinara’s commitment to the execution of its mandate is unparalleled and is ready to pay the outstanding requests for funding within the available budget allocations for the projects that overlapped into 2023 once all the required due diligence processes with Treasury are completed,” reads the latest Zinara statement.