The government and the Zimbabwe Electoral Commission owe the Central Mechanical and Engineering Department (CMED) more than $13 million, a situation the state-owned company said is untenable, especially as the country heads for national elections.
Managing director Davision Mhaka says the government and ZEC should pay up if the CMED is to provide transport services for the elections that are expected to be called sometime this year.
Speaking Monday before Parliament's portfolio committee on transport and infrastructure, Mr. Mhaka said ZEC owes $1.6 million for cars hired in the March constitutional referendum. So far, ZEC has paid only $3,000 for the vehicles it hired during the referendum. Altogether, ZEC and other government bodies owe CMED a total of $13 million.
The CMED, Mhaka said, had planned to buy 100 new vehicles for use during the anticipated elections but has only been able to purchase 20 so far.
Mhaka said only three ministries - justice, health and public service – reliably pay for CMED services. The others pay infrequently, at best. This, he said, not only affects the operations of many government departments, ministries and lawmakers, it also has let many of CMED's fuel stations run dry.
Mhaka, however, assured the committee that fuel shortages should soon be a thing of the past as the CMED has secured its own fuel import license so will now compete with private companies on the open market, buying and selling fuel to the public.
The CMED, a government parastatal, has a varied mission, but is best known for buying vehicles and maintaining them for government ministries and departments.