By Daniel Chigundu
BINGA SOUTH legislator Gabbuza Joel Gabbuza says the government should disband the Central Mechanical and Equipment Department (CMED) because it is not serving any purpose besides opening avenues for abuse of state resources.
CMED which is currently facing various operational challenges is reportedly owed about US$24 million by government ministries for fuel and vehicle maintenance, US$768 000 for car hire by Zimbabwe Electoral Commission and lost about US$2.7 million is botched fuel deal.
Speaking in the National Assembly on the turnaround strategy for the parastatal, Honourable Gabbuza said what CMED is facing borders purely on mismanagement by management and abuse of the parastatal by the government itself and therefore should be disbanded.
“When you look at the way government abuses CMED, there is no way CMED can make money? Ministers service their vehicles and do not pay; Ministers hire buses for political rallies through the small fleet that CMED runs and nobody pays, the government gets pays and abuses the fuels yet Ministers are given coupons to redeem to CMED but they do not redeem; they just use the fuel and get away.
“I think in summary, it is either we have CMED as a private company and have government to back off, then that company must compete with all other companies. It is not the Committee’s business to go and make recommendations about administration but clearly, they had to do it because there is no administration system in place.
“I think Mr Speaker; it is either that we make a bold decision since there is a new government in place or CMED should be disbanded because it is serving no purpose at all other than assisting some people to abuse the system within the CMED,” he said.
Honourable Gabbuza added that CMED is assisting well-connect people to abuse state facilities and that there should be thorough investigations on parastatal to weed out abuse.
“So, Mr Speaker, I think issues about CMED, it is one good entity where it is just providing a feeding trough for various well-connected people within government and outside government.
“I think this is a report that we must support. If possible, let us put all other parastatals together with CMED and have a thorough investigation of what needs to be done because they are just an unnecessary burden to the taxpayers,” he said.
Speaking to the same debate Uzumba legislator Simbaneuta Mudarikwa said the major problem is that there are too many parastatals in Zimbabwe and some are doing the same thing yet they can be consolidated.
“…I would like to basically deal with the issue of fuel first. Our problem as a country is that we have too many parastatals. How can we have a government department running 20 service stations and we say this is a parastatal and then there is also another government department called Petro Trade which is also involved in the selling of fuel.
“Why can we not have Petro Trade and CMED establish one unit? At least they will get a fair share of the market rather than having Petrol Trade standing there and CMED is there with its 20 service stations?
Honourable Mudarikwa also said talking about the botched US$2.7 million fuel deal is a waste of time adding “that thing has gone for years. It is now more than three years; people are talking about that money. Technically, if you owe somebody for more than three years, the money is prescribed.
“Once you exceed three years, you cannot claim the money. So, why should we waste time talking about this US$2.7 million; it is no longer there. The people who committed the crimes are there and walking freely in the streets of Harare,” he said.