A contractor (name supplied) hired by the Ministry of Industry and Commerce to buy over 20 double cab Toyota vehicles in December last year is yet to deliver, with contrasting reasons now emerging.
A top of the range Toyota GD6 truck lands in Zimbabwe at a cost close to US$100 000.
Some official sources said the 20 vehicles were supposed to have been delivered during the first quarter of 2022, insinuating the supplier had failed to fulfil the contract.
However, other officials said the delay was due to the floods that hit Kwazulu Natal province, South Africa, where the Toyota factory is domiciled.
Reports from SA said production at the plant, where several sections of the 87-hectare plant were submerged, returned in August. More than 4 000 damaged cars had to be crushed.
Manufacturing robots and machinery were also damaged and destroyed.
Dr Mavis Sibanda, the Industry and Commerce secretary, confirmed non-delivery of the vehicles, adding the ministry was now expecting the vehicles to land in Zimbabwe soon now that Toyota South Africa has resumed operations.
“We should be expecting the first four vehicles this week or early next week and our officers are in constant communication with the supplier,” said Dr Sibanda in an interview.
“We are expecting that by the end of the year, we should have received all the vehicles.”
She said “a number” of customers were affected by the floods “and would have been very difficult if we had taken the delivery of defective cars just to meet the timelines.”
She defended the procurement process, insisting everything was above board.
Some sources in the ministry who occupy senior positions, however, said the vehicles should have been delivered before the floods.
“It is true and known that Toyota was affected by the floods, but by the time the disaster occurred, the vehicles should have already been delivered,” said one official, who declined to be named because he is not allowed to talk to the media. The floods are just an unacceptable excuse.”
Flouting of the rules
While the Government releases funds to line ministries for approved programmes or projects, some ministries might be diverting the funds for other projects.
According to a top official in the ministry, the decision to buy the cars “was hurriedly made so that the unutilised funds cannot be returned to the Treasury at year-end”.
“Even though we have a programme-based budget, several ministries are diverting the money for other projects just to ensure they exhaust their budgets,” said the official.
“In some instances, prepayments for consumables such as fuel are made,” the official added.
Deputy Minister of Finance and Economic Development, Clemence Chiduwa, told Business Weekly the Treasury “doesn’t approve any expenditure not linked to the approved budget.
“It is unlike before when allocations were just made to the ministries,” Chiduwa added.
“In cases where the tender is awarded and we have the suspicion that after payment, there is no delivery, we can institute investigations.” Last month, Finance and Economic Development Minister secretary, George Guvamatanga, admitted that some companies contracted by the Government failed to deliver after being paid and were using the money for speculative purposes on the black market.