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PRAZ expedites public procurement reforms

PHILLIMON MHLANGA

The Procurement Regulatory Authority of Zimbabwe (PRAZ) is expediting the public procurement reforms to streamline bottlenecks identified over the past three years, Business Times can report.

Zimbabwe passed into law the Public Procurement and Disposal of Public Assets (PPDPA) Act in 2017 that came into operation in 2018.

But some gaps have been identified prompting PRAZ to propose some amendments to align the Act to the Constitution of Zimbabwe.

PRAZ acting chief executive officer, Clever Ruswa, who spoke at the authority’s media engagement meeting yesterday, said the authority has been engaging stakeholders this month and hope to conclude the engagement by the end of this month.

Some of the proposed amendments include the exemption of the publication of information concerning certain procurements which may be considered to prejudice the procuring entity concerned. This means that Section 3 of the Act will be amended by repeal of subsection 6. It is proposed that no public notice shall be issued to certain procurement of goods, works or services including those in the interest of defence, public security, and strategic procurement of trading stock by State entities operating in the competitive markets. If they are to make public their procurement, it is feared that by the time they complete the procurement as a State entity, their competitors in the private sector would have taken the idea and implemented it.

Ruswa said the Act will therefore consider their plea for confidentiality to their intellectual property.

There will also be an amendment to Section 15 of the Act which deals with the authorisation to conduct procurement by procuring entities.

The authority, which is currently valid for two years, will now be valid for one year only from the date on which it was given and may be renewed for further such period.

Section 54 of the Act, which deals with the composition of the Special Procurement Oversight Committee (SPOC) that scrutinised procurement contracts, will be amended. SPOC is chaired by the Attorney General and the other members of the committee are the accountant general, the auditor general, the principal director  or the chief director in the Ministry of Public Works and other two committee members are also part of the committee.

The Auditor General, Mildred Chiri, will be removed from the committee due to conflict of interest because she would come back and audit the books of procurement entities which use public funds.

There will also be amendments to the period allowed before a contract is awarded.

Section 100 of the Act, subsection 3 which deals with joint ventures will also be amended. The current law does not expound on issues of bilateral engagements. The amended section will recognise the existence of the Zimbabwe Investment Development Agency in joint venture projects.

Section 102 of the Act which deals with penalties for those who violate the Act will be amended. It will now provide violations that are criminal and others that are administrative.

There are also proposals to include the small and medium enterprises. This means the Act will be aligned to SMEs policy.

The inclusion of the SMEs, Ruswa said, will aid PRAZ achieve its mandate of promoting an efficient, fair, competitive, and transparent public procurement in Zimbabwe.

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