The City of Bulawayo says it cannot enter into partnerships with organisations for any project without the approval of the Zimbabwe Investment and Development Agency (ZIDA).
ZIDA is a government investment agency responsible for promoting and facilitating both domestic and foreign investment in the country but the local authority acknowledges that the application process to partner with the council is ‘too long’ and ‘puts people off,’ but that the law had to be followed.
ZIDA arose from the consolidation of three investment authorities that were previously housed in separate government ministries and departments and its Act, which repealed the Zimbabwe Investment Authority, the Zimbabwe Special Economic Zones Authority and the Joint Ventures Act, established a comprehensive and binding legal and regulatory framework for both domestic and foreign investors to conduct investment activities in the country.
During a recent plenary session on how the local authority partnered with stakeholders for projects on waste management, recycling, and awareness in the city, Bulawayo Town Clerk, Christopher Dube, confirmed the council’s hands were tied because it was not permitted to enter into partnerships without ZIDA.
“There was a question of how partnerships take place if people want to partner the council. Partnerships are governed by legislation, the ZIDA Act. We used to partner as local authorities and organisations would come in and say, ‘we want to partner with you here and there’ then we do the necessary due intelligence. If we are happy with the proposed partnership, we go to council for a resolution then have the partnerships take off,” he said.
However, interested partners must now apply for such permission through ZIDA before the council can work with them, according to Dube.
“But now, in terms of the ZIDA Act, there is a section that identifies you when you come and want to do business without solicitation, which identifies you as an unsolicited bid. We have no authority as council even if you were to identify that the partnership or the business you want to do with us is really necessary, we cannot conclude it. We can only recommend it to ZIDA and eventually it goes to Cabinet for approval,” said the town clerk.
The town clerk acknowledged that the application process with ZIDA was time-consuming but necessary as part of due diligence.
“I can tell you that the process puts a lot of people off. The process takes too long and it requires a lot of patience but what else can we do? We are the local government and bureaucracy, we cannot avoid bureaucracy,” Dube said.
“Bureaucracy actually helps you in certain areas because it does not give certain individuals and certain sections of council absolute authority over certain issues. So unfortunately, we have to follow such processes.”