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By Lebo Nkatazo

TWELVE tractors purchased under controversial circumstances by the Commission running Harare City Council from China for refuse collection have all broken down less than seven months after delivery, documents in our possession reveal.

Local Government Minister Ignatius Chombo and the head of the commission running Harare City Council, Sekesai Makwavarara, gave a nod to the acquisition of the tractors despite an internal evaluation warning that spare parts for the tractors were not available locally.

A report submitted by the city’s Director for Waste Management Leslie Gwindi at a meeting of heads of departments show that the tractors were bought from a Chinese company called Petil Import and Export Company.

Gwindi reveals in the report that all the 12 tractors are no longer functioning.

The report reads in part: "Specifications not comprehensive or conclusive. No spares back-up
capability. No workshop capability. No workshop facilities. Current range in
council have numerous defects.”

The report reveals that of the consignment of 12 tractors received from the Chinese company, one never worked.

Commission spokesperson, Percy Tariro, said Thursday: “The issue of those
tractors is currently being looked at."

He declined to answer further questions.

After being slapped with sanctions by western countries, President Robert Mugabe has pursued a “Look East” policy that has seen government departments and the army being actively urged to buy equipment from China.

Recently the Zimbabwe Defence Forces (ZDF) bought 12 jets from China.

And early last year, Air Zimbabwe bought two MA60 planes, one of which has never worked since delivery. The Chinese government donated a third to the Zimbabwe government.

The National Railways of Zimbabwe also announced Saturday that it is replacing old railway tracks nationwide after importing 12 000 tons of rail from China.

Zimbabwe's National Sports Stadium is also undergoing refurbishment following a Chinese donation of US$5,8 million. The terms of the donation have not been disclosed.

Government opponents say President Mugabe's government is mortgaging the country's mineral and agricultural resources to China. Opposition groups and economists also warn that an influx of cheap Chinese goods is putting locals out of business.

Phineas Chihota, Zimbabwe's deputy minister for Industry and International Trade told a seminar in Bulawayo last week that "if an individual or company goes to China to purchase shoes which last for one day, we don't care because that's not government business."

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