Concern raised over monitoring of China Sinohydro Corporation water treatment loan guarantees

By Tafadzwa Muranganwa

As   Harare  battles a  water crisis, a local organisation  fighting for an efficient water delivery  system is agitated  by the lack of transparency regarding the  latest water treatment  loan offered by a Chinese firm  to  City of Harare.

Community Water Alliance says it notes with sadness that City of Harare is partnering with China Sinohydro Corporation in a $US237 million deal to construct four new sewage treatment plants but the minister of finance Professor Mthuli Ncube does not seem to be transparently superintending over the loan agreement and guarantees as required by the constitution.

“We read with sadness that City of Harare is partnering China Sinohydro Corporation in a US$237 million deal to construct four new sewage treatment plants.

“Community Water Alliance is greatly disturbed by Prof Ncube’s disregard of his Constitutional duties when it comes to loan agreements and guarantees since he   is obliged by Section 300(3) of the Constitution of Zimbabwe “within sixty days after Government has concluded a loan agreement or guarantee, to cause the terms of the loan to be published in the Gazette,” says Community Water Alliance.

The  Community Water Alliance programmes manager Hardlife Mudzingwa  also further asserts  that minister Ncube is also required by the law  “at least twice a year, report to Parliament on the performance of loans raised by the State and loans guaranteed by the State”,  a duty which the finance minister has failed.

The new deal comes in the midst of the alleged maladministration and appropriation of   the June-July  2012 US$144 million China Exim Bank loan intended  to rehabilitate Morton Jaffray  water treatment plant and increase daily water production in Harare to at least 620 megalitres per day.

An audit report on the loan showed that   $1,3 million of the $8 million intended for the purchase of water treatment  equipment was  gobbled with the purchase of  “luxury” motor vehicles.

According to Community Water Alliance, failure to publish these loans further buttress the suspicion that the move to give borrowing powers to Local Authorities in Zimbabwe is ‘meant to lay appropriate conditions for looting, theft and ‘tender-preneurship’ in the water, sanitation and hygiene sector’.

The country’s capital city has resorted to water rationing to battle the water crisis   amid the dwindling water levels at the country’s main water supplier Lake Chivero coupled with perennial   lack of   funds to for water treatment.

Stakeholders in the water, sanitation and hygiene sectors have  called for the government to declare the water shortages a national disaster especially after the Cholera outbreak that hit the city and some parts of the country late last year.