Vusumuzi Dube, Senior Municipal Reporter
A SHOWDOWN is looming at the Bulawayo City Council after councillors ignored advice from council management and instead ordered council to go ahead with the implementation of a controversial parking management system tender.
The tender will see the local authority embark on a joint venture with the two Harare-based companies — Duscretion Logistics (Private) Limited and Lauvax Trading (Private) Limited trading as ProPark in the provision of a parking management system in the city.
This, however, comes despite management led by the Town Clerk Mr Christopher Dube warning councillors that they could not implement the resolution as there were a number of irregularities.
The management had advised that the project be put on tender and be awarded in a manner that was transparent, fair, honest, cost-effective and competitive.
The tender for the city’s parking meter management has been a bone of contention within council for the past seven years with councillors accused of interfering in the process.
Last month the councillors passed a resolution to embark on the joint venture with the two companies. However, the councillors’ decision saw Mr Dube raising the red flag, warning the councillors that the move was illegal as the matter had to go through a normal tender process.
The move by the councillors could also put them at loggerheads with Local Government, Public Works and National Housing Minister, July Moyo who last month warned the councillors from interfering in council procurement issues.
Speaking at a full council meeting on Wednesday, councillors said there was no need to further delay the project hence the need for the local authority to go ahead and partner the two companies in the provision of the system.
Ward 20 councillor, Alderman Ernst Rafamoyo, dismissed management’s contention that the tender was irregular claiming that the local authority was not incurring any costs in the project hence there was no need to go to tender as this was more of an investment.
“The resolution made at the last council meeting was proper as the two companies submitted their bids as unsolicited bids as bound in the Joint Venture Act. In this case as council we are not incurring any cost, instead council will receive funds and investment. We must not stop investors who want to improve the wellbeing of our city,” said Ald Rafamoyo.
Ward 27 councillor, Ald Siboniso Khumalo, concurred saying the back and forth attitude in the implementation of the tender was bearing no fruits.
“This resolution is taking too long to implement. Last month we met and made a decision on this matter. What has since changed? Last year when we made the initial decision to embark on a joint venture with these two companies, all the technocrats from the finance department were part of this decision, what is taking too long, let these companies come and start working,” said Ald Khumalo.
According to the latest council report, it was made clear that the tender had a number of irregularities hence management’s advice that it be retendered. “In an effort to implement that resolution management had realised that there was PBR1049 of 24th October 2017 of the then State Procurement Board. This required that Council debriefs the tenderers in the previous parking tender. The de-briefing had not been done since the matter was pending in court.
“If Council did not want to proceed in the said manner it would need to seek leave to do so from the Procurement Regulatory Authority of Zimbabwe (PRAZ). The Accounting Officer would have to justify why he would wish to proceed in a manner that is selective and excluding other companies that had shown interest in the matter. In view of interest shown by many companies in the Parking Management System, such justification could not be sustained and would only waste resources and time,” reads part of the council report.
According to the minutes, the chamber secretary, who is the council’s legal head, Mrs Sikhangele Zhou advised councillors to rescind the resolution, paving way for the Town Clerk to retender the provision of the parking management system through a tender system that was transparent and fair.
The initial shambolic bidding process for the parking system brought the city’s tendering system under scrutiny, in 2012, with accusations of corruption among councillors and directors flying around.
First, Easipark, a South African company that was favourite to clinch the parking deal, was disqualified on allegations of attempting to bribe members of the then procurement board to swing the bid in its favour. The company was readmitted and the tendering process re-done after consultations among stakeholders.
Easipark was disqualified again, after it failed to attend a compulsory tender briefing meeting, which then saw Megalithic being awarded the tender.
Councillors then accused former deputy mayor, Amen Mpofu, of championing the Easipark cause.
The local authority later withdrew the awarding of the tender to Megalithic which resulted in a seven year legal battle, which the local authority eventually won last year, paving way for the tender to be revisited.