Council bid to splash US$2m on 500 desktops exposed

Blessings Chidakwa-Herald Reporter

Some Harare City Council officials have been caught in a procurement scam in which they are fighting for the purchase of 500 desktop computers at US$4 000 each, above the market price of about US$700.

At least US$2 million has been set aside for this.

The Herald has learnt that a tender process was done sometime this year, with procurement officials reportedly pushing for a firm that pegged a single desktop between US$3 000 and US$4 000 while dumping offers of lower prices.

Research shows that an average price of a brand new Hp 290 G4 Microtower Desktop with a 1 terabyte hard drive capacity, processor of Intel Core i5 9th Generation costs about US$700. 

Harare town clerk Engineer Hosiah Chisango yesterday said the deal was blocked. 

“I advised the procurement team to go back to the market,” he said.

Harare IT manager Mr Samson Madzokere was said to be on leave.

City Mayor councillor Jacob Mafume said: “That is criminal. We will not allow that.”

Serious divisions and infighting have, however, since rocked Town House as some top council officials are fuming over blocking of the deal.

However, a well-placed source within the procurement department said the request to purchase the desktops at inflated prices was just a tip of an iceberg.

“Yes, it is true that we had sourced quotations for the supply of more than 500 desktops. 

“The price was ranging from US$3 000 to US$4 000 for each desktop. Our budget was US$2 million for the desktops.

“Despite us having done the paperwork and now awaiting payment, the move has been blocked. Almost everything we buy as procurement prices will be inflated. There is serious corruption happening, but only benefiting top brass,” said the source.

Harare Residents Trust director, Mr Precious Shumba, said the local authority was a crime scene.

“Corruption is deep-rooted and the perpetrators are not being held accountable. Reports that someone wanted to purchase desktops for US$4 000 each are not surprising. The Harare Residents Trust has received numerous reports of the inflation of the cost of goods and services by their procurement division.

“Ironically, there is a clique of council officials involved in these corrupt deals, but they are untouchables,” he said.

Mr Shumba said what made the situation most unfortunate was that companies that inflate the cost of services are always paid without delay but fail to deliver thus depriving the council of huge amounts of money.

Combined Harare Residents Association Mr Rueben Akili said it was worrying and unacceptable to buy the desktops at a time when the city was unable to provide critical services.

“We call upon the local authority to be very serious in terms of how it conducts business.

“It is very unfortunate (that they want to do this) at a time we are grappling with service delivery. 

“We call upon the Mayor to intervene. Those involved in the shenanigans should stop such practices. It is retrogressive,” he said.

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