Calls to probe Harare plans to buy us$57 million billing system

26 May, 2023 - 00:05 0 Views
Calls to probe Harare plans to buy us$57 million billing system Mr Muguti


Calls have been made for a probe into the City of Harare’s plans to buy Enterprise Resource Planning software from South Africa at an inflated cost of US$57 million.

The matter has since attracted the attention of the office of Harare Metropolitan Province’s Permanent Secretary for Provincial Affairs and Devolution, Mr Tafadzwa Muguti who has called for an immediate probe.

“City of Harare has decided to go and get a system which can be made in  Zimbabwe. It is therefore insane for the local authority to be seen acquiring software at such an exorbitant price when we have poor service delivery. Our office is going to look into the matter because it is not justifiable to spend US$57 million buying billing software and ERP software,” he said.

Residents are fuming saying they were not consulted. 

“The billing system is in shambles, of concern is that they want to acquire overpriced software yet we have cheaper alternatives. They never consulted us after all,” said Zimbabwe National Organisation of Associations and Residents Trusts chairperson, Mr Shalva Chikomba.

Chairperson of Parliament’s Public Accounts Committee, sub-committee on Local Authorities Dexter Nduna says the city council is defying orders to implement recommendations of the auditor general’s report which unearthed some unaccounted funds worth US$200 million.

“Harare City Council has not adhered to the advice from the auditor general that reconstruction of BIQ system is the only way they can get to attempt to see where the missing US$200 million can be recovered,” he said.

“We also see that they want to purchase this software and the advice from the committee is we do not go that route. We already have a report presented in Parliament and we have already reported some Harare City Council officials to ZACC for criminal abuse of office.”

The Zimbabwe Anti-Corruption Commission is seized with the matter.

“ZACC received information to the effect that the accounts of Harare City Council were not balancing by amounts amounting to US$200 million and we have instituted investigations to establish what transpired as well as the procurement of a new system that will help them establish what happened. 

‘‘Currently, the matter is under investigation,” said ZACC spokesperson, Commissioner Thandiwe Malobane.

Mayor Jacob Mafume confirmed the intention to buy an overpriced software but said it has since been aborted after Procurement Regulatory Authority of Zimbabwe’s intervention.

“There was an attempt by some members of staff to get an overpriced accounting system worth US$57 million. Thankfully this was stopped by PRAZ, as councillors we raised our concerns,” he said.

In April The Herald reported that city IT boss Mr Samson Madzokere and other senior managers spent US$20 000 per trip on numerous occasions to South Africa to canvas for the US$57 million deal.

Mr Madzokere claimed the prospective supplier funded the trips but Councillor Mafume told a recent full council meeting Harare funded the trips. 

“Right now, the IT person has conspired with everyone in town to lie about enterprise resource planning. We are receiving anonymous emails stating we want to contract an ERP worth US$51 million.

“We came away from an ERP which was at US$35 000 which got to US$75 000. We had a dispute over US$75 000. We then took SAGE which cost us US$350 000 and never functioned. We can’t produce an audit,” he said.

Mr Madzokere defended the US$57 million system.

“US$51million is for acquiring the system. The US$ 75 000 being reported for the previous system was payment for annual licences not entirely buying the system.

“The old system had its price about R500 million and then we were annually paying US$75 000. We went to tender to look for a new system even though the previous firm on the bid list was outclassed. Each had its score and the US$51 million was number one on scoring,” he said.

Mr Madzokere also defended the expenditure during a trip to South Africa.

“The bidders provided us with air tickets, accommodation and meals as per our agreement, but each time an employee leaves the country he or she is entitled to out-of-pocket allowance. 

“There were five companies during the bidding process but two pulled out. Among the three left, two were local, implying we only had one trip to South Africa,” he said.

Mr Madzokere said of the eight people that travelled the out-of-pocket allowance barely reached US$8 000 for all and they are yet to receive it.

The council’s ERP was initially supplied by Quill Associates, before its contract was terminated in 2019 over a dispute. 

“The IT department is never going to work. They are concentrating on corruption. There is an addiction to corruption of immense appetite. We do not have internet at the office, here (Town House) we hardly have the internet.”

“We don’t have internet at Cleveland house, for functions of the city we are still operating on a manual basis yet we have one of the biggest IT departments.”

“When they go to conferences in Victoria Falls we sign for too many people. Every year they say in justification that they want to learn new skills,” said Cllr Mafume.

Cleveland House are failing to benefit from international training being offered under its twinning arrangement by the City of Munich virtually due to lack of internet connectivity.

Cllr Mafume said he received a letter dated March 28 from the City of Munich department of Labour and Economic Development about the lack of internet connection.

“The absence of internet connection at Cleveland has affected the training of staff officers by Munich since the training is done virtually,” read part of the letter. – ZBC News/The Herald

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