Corruption within the Central Mechanical Equipment department (CMED) is so rife that its entire security system should be dismantled and reorganised under the auspices of a very senior police officer, a parliamentary committee on technical ministers has recommended.
The committee discovered that because of this corruption some of the junior officers had become so arrogant that they did not respect their seniors at provincial level or at the ministry because they dealt directly with senior officials at head office.
At Chinhoyi, for example, the committee discovered that some of the companies that had been given jobs were not qualified for such jobs. Willis Auto Electrical was, for example, given engines to pair when it could not do the job. It in turn gave these engines to D and R Motors who did the job. Willis Auto Electrical would then add its own mark-up on the amount charged by D and R Motors.
The committee said although the management of the CMED at Chinhoyi was aware of what was happening they remained indifferent about it.
In Harare, a seven tonne truck was stolen from the depot in broad-day-light. When the Central Purchasing Department was transferred to the CMED a lot of spare parts disappeared.
The committee also discovered that estimates of jobs sent to private companies ended up coinciding with the actual costs charged by these companies. They could not therefore believe that the costs were genuine.
Companies that were on record for doing shoddy jobs continued to receive jobs from the CMED. Two companies mentioned were Woodling Co. and Karigamombe. The committee said vehicles sent to these companies almost in a perfect condition came back with old spares and broke down within a week.
Although the CMED was aware of the shoddy work by these companies they sent vehicles back to them for repairs because they were probably paid Kickbacks.
In Bulawayo a vehicle had all its spare parts stripped while at a police station, the committee said.
In Karoi equipment meant to be used for the construction of the Karoi-Binga road was diverted and hired to commercial farmers to build their dams.
The committee also discovered that since junior officials were used to communicating directly with officials at head office, some had become so arrogant that hey did not have respect for their bosses at the ministry.
“The young man who was the provincial road engineer in Mashonaland West would just say to the Deputy Secretary- shut up, you are a liar,” a member of the committee told parliament.
He said this same young man had diverted money meant for the construction of roads to build a tennis court for a government official. When he was transferred the young man stayed on for a while in Chinhoyi saying he was waiting for his child who was in England to come back because the child was not used to bush life.
At Bulawayo airport, a building meant to house equipment to enhance effective precision landing was lying empty. In the tower itself employees were using a tin tied to a rope to pull messages up and down because they had no equipment, yet this was the country’s second biggest airport, the committee noted.
The committee also discovered that almost 50 percent of the CMED fleet was becoming non-viable.
The CMED has a fleet of 14 000 with 8 000 vehicles, 2 000 motorcycles, 2 400 mechanical plant and equipment, and 1 600 drawn units.
Some 4 564 vehicles needed spares or replacements at a cost of $87.3 million in foreign currency and 397 units of equipment also needed spares or replacement at a cost of $75.4 million in foreign currency.
The committee recommended that 1 685 vehicles and 488 units of equipment costing $80.11 million and $63.4 million, respectively, should be acquired just to activate the fleet.
It also recommended that the Ministry of Transport and energy should carry out thorough investigations into CMED activities and ascertain whether there are any records of CMED assets and its losses.
The Ministry should also constitute a study team to thoroughly study the movements of spares and vehicles at CMED depots throughout the country.
The CMED organisation structure should be looked into and its efficiency improved. The department should also educate user ministries on how to handle government vehicles and plant to reduce the accident rates. User ministries should be urged to have a sense of responsibility for government vehicles, plant and equipment.