The Bulawayo City Council (BCC) has been urged to be transparent on the Public-Private Partnerships (PPPs) it enters into in order to curb corrupt practices and promote stakeholder involvement.
Public-private partnerships involve collaboration between a government agency and a private-sector company that can be used to finance, build, and operate projects, such as public transportation networks, parks, and convention centres.
In 2015 African civil engineering firm, Terracotta was awarded a multi-million dollar tender by the local authority to develop Egodini bus terminus into a state-of-the-art regional transport hub and mall.
However, there has been slow progress with stakeholders at some point calling on the council to cancel the contract.
Speaking on This Morning on Asakhe, a CITE daily Twitter space on PPPs, Vusumuzi Dube a local senior journalist said such deals should be open to public scrutiny.
“Egodini project has been going on for years now, we had initially the signing of the contract alone took over two years, maybe they will argue that they were still negotiating the terms of the contract but up to now there is nothing that is happening,” said Dube
“Yes, they are saying they are installing the vending bays and they are also fixing the actual terminal for Kombis and buses but if you go there trust me you will be disappointed, there is nothing tangible which is happening, kombis are now almost everywhere in the city around 6th Avenue its chaos because Egodini is not operating.
“The implications are that as residents we are on the losing side because you will expect that BCC will avail such documents for scrutiny by journalists because it’s in the public interest because we are putting BCC there to manage our rates, to manage our resources so at the end of the day they are supposed to avail those documents it then becomes difficult to hold them to account.”
Dube said in the event that the media is not privy to contractual obligations, it becomes difficult to hold authorities to account.
“How then do we know the investment being put through by Terracotta how do we know that this company is adhering to deadlines, it becomes difficult for residents and journalists to hold authorities to account. Vendors are operating just anyhow, you ask BCC what is really happening, and they will say the best people to comment on is Terracotta, Terracotta as the developer are in constant touch with the City Council but City Council won’t give you a comment,” he said.
Dube added the deal between Tendy Three Investments and the council was another project which the council could have implemented on its own without involving a private partner.
“Why didn’t BCC come with their own system because they have their own IT department, how then did they decide to channel out the project then partner the TTI, clearly there is something amiss,” he said.
Matabeleland Institute for Human Rights (MIHR) director Khumbulani Maphosa said in Zimbabwe PPPs have not yielded any results due to corruption.
“Instead of us negotiating for PPPs that help our local authorities, communities, and our people, we are negotiating PPPs from a mindset of looters, thieves, and thuggery to the point that we think about ourselves if we don’t think of deals that benefit us as personal individuals, why do we have such floppy partnerships when we have so much educated people,” said Maphosa.
“What is needed is for citizens to punish all that are negotiating these floppy deals. The other problem is that citizens have not seen that this is money that is looted from their pockets, citizens just look at it from government money, council money but it is our money as citizens.”