Officials at Town House are questioning the manner in which Easi Park, a South African-based Company, was awarded a contract to operate a parking business in the busy Harare Central Business District where it charges a minimum of US$ 1 to park a vehicle. This is despite the fact that the city already runs a pre-paid parking business.
Holders of the HCC parking discs are not allowed to park in the South African company’s territory.
According to city officials the contract was awarded under the pretext that there were no locals companies interested in the business.
“Local companies were invited to take up the business and they responded but none of them was given the green light to start the business,” said a Town House Source who can not be named to protect his identity.
“If there was no technology would the company operating at the Harare International Airport be in business?” asked the source.
The city fathers have argued that the system was introduced to decongest the city.
City councillors have welcomed the deal but have said it is skewed in favour of the South African company, which has a controlling stake of 60 percent against the 40 percent that the city is entitled to.
The arrangement is also replicated in the distribution of profits from the business.
A black empowerment pressure group has also questioned the deal.
“There is nothing special in this whole thing. Street parking has nothing spectacular. If you go to South Africa no such business will be given to a foreign company. It is a simple business which should be confined to indigenous businesses,” said Supa Mandiwanzira the President of the Affirmative Action Group (AAG).
“There are several local companies that wanted to do that business, they even signed agreements but nothing happened thereafter. To say there are no local companies interested is absolute nonsense.”
Asked if there are any local companies with the appropriate technology to run electronic street parking business such as the one operated by Easi Park, Mandiwanzira said, “That technology can be found at flea markets in China.”
However Wellington Chikomba a councillor in Harare in charge of a committee which looks into the business interests of the city defended the deal saying, “proper shareholders agreements exist and the deal was done above board and the city is getting its dues. Everything is in order and the city is getting about US$ 97 000 a month from the parking business.”
Mayor of Harare Muchadeyi Masunda would not comment on the matter saying he didn’t have enough information while Town Clerk Tendai Mahachi was not reachable.
The City Treasurer Misheck Mubvumbi who should be privy to how money from such businesses is handled also appeared to have been in the dark about the deal.
“I don’t have much information on the deal you have to ask the Town Clerk or Mayor,” said Mubvumbi when asked to shed light on the parking business.