MASVINGO City Council has turned down government directive to buy fire tenders from a particular supplier in Belarus arguing that firefighting equipment was not a priority at the moment.
The decision was made during council’s finance and general purposes committee meeting held on July 19.
“Consideration was given to the report of the acting finance director on the letter from the permanent secretary in the Local Government and Public Works ministry advising that government will procure fire tenders on behalf of local authorities utilising the 2022 devolution fund allocations. The City of Masvingo would get two fire tenders at a cost of US$464 396 each.
“The 2022 devolution allocation was $253 107 300 and council was being advised to re-prioritise the devolution funds to accommodate the cost of the fire tenders. The committee has raised concern that the fire tenders were not a priority to the City of Masvingo. The City of Masvingo is in need of refuse trucks, tipper trucks, grader and ambulances.
“The committee counter proposed that government should consider procuring two refuse trucks, a tipper truck, grader and an ambulance for the City of Masvingo using the devolution funds in place of the fire tenders,” read part of the minutes.
“The committee has resolved that the position of government through the Local Government and Public Works ministry, to procure two fire tenders for the City of Masvingo at a cost of US$464 396 each to be turned down on the basis that fire tenders were not a priority for the city.”
The fire tender issue torched a storm after the Local Government ministry wrote to all city, town and rural district councils indicating that it was procuring fire tenders from Belarus on behalf of all local authorities with the money being deducted from their devolution fund allocations over a period of 12 months.
Masvingo mayor councilor Collen Maboke who is also a lawyer, said the directive by central government was unconstitutional since the funds are from devolution funds where they have to consult residents on how to use the money.
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Zaka Rural District Council chairperson Cornelius Mapuranga said his local authority also had more pressing issues than a fire tender.
Chiredzi acting town secretary Wesley Kauma said the local authority recently purchased a fire tender and would want to use the funds towards other needs.