No one can argue with the fact that Zimbabwe needs a new Civil Registry Department building, the one we have is old and was not meant to cater to the needs of the 15 million+ citizens we have now. So the Zimbabwean government has been building a new CVR building, something they started doing in 1997 and were meant to complete in 2000. Needless to say, the building process is still ongoing more than two decades later. The built parts are so old they are starting to crack even though the building has not been completed yet.

This sorry state of things was revealed by the Director of Public Works in the Ministry of Local Government and Public Works, Mike Dzimati on Monday.

The building construction commenced in 1997 but we have had challenges. The building has water leakages; the elevators do not function; it has cracks and we are worried about the safety of employees.

We want to complete the project. The construction of the building should have been completed by May 2000. Energy Private Company was contacted to do the work in a fix and supply agreement.

Due to delays in funds disbursement, the physical structure of the building was completed in 2003 but due to material price escalation, material shortages and brain drain, the project stalled between 2004 and 2008.

The government underfunded the project which initially was overpriced to US$23 million but was reduced to US$4 million, then revised to US$9,6 million after negotiations with the contractor.

Delays by the Treasury in making payments led to more delays in the completion of the physical structure.

This was worsened by a lack of trust in contractors who refused to use their own resources to fund the project.

The building has no certificate of occupation or commission.

Director Dzimati speaking before a parliament portifolio commitee

Corruption and incompetence

While the national and local governments like to trade barbs over who is more corrupt the truth is that both have been shockingly inept when it comes to infrastructure development and service delivery. It doesn’t help that both continue to evade acts meant to hold them accountable such as national and local government audits. In recent reports by the Auditor General both local councils and government departments featured in a who is who of obstruction.

It makes little sense that work that began decades ago hasn’t been completed but it jives with what has been happening in just about every other sector in Zimbabwe thanks to corruption. Several years ago we learnt of how executives at struggling parastatals paid themselves millions in salaries and bonuses despite their institutions failing to deliver. Nothing happened to those executives and to date no meaningful reforms have been carried out in these departments. Nothing is probably going to change either and it wouldn’t be too shocking if we spend more decades building the CVR building.