President Mnangagwa warns public procurement officials

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PHILLIMON MHLANGA

President Emmerson Mnangagwa has warned procurement officials in State-owned entities to desist from corrupt and malpractice tendencies, which have resulted in multi-million dollar tenders being controversially awarded to undeserving bidders.

He made the remarks at the official launch of the Procurement Regulatory Authority of Zimbabwe (PRAZ) held in the capital on Thursday, saying the corrupt tendencies continue to hold back “the nation”.

“It’s another step (launch of PRAZ) in our battle against corruption,” Mnangagwa said.

“It is disheartening that for too long, the procurement process has been beset by malpractices and corruption. In some cases, tenders have been awarded to undeserving bidders. This practice must stop. The past culture and collusion between government department and State-owned companies’ officials and cartels should stop. I am aware that some government departments have a tendency of inflating figures. This should stop.”

He added: “My government will not tolerate criminal and greedy tendencies. All practitioners must abandon and forsake the old ways of doing things, which have held us back as a nation. As we rebuild and reform our economy, our procurement procedures should be characterised by the highest standards of integrity. Let us embrace a new culture to ensure sustainable economic growth leading to improved standards for all Zimbabweans,” Mnangagwa said.

Government promulgated the Public Procurement and Disposal of Public Assets Act last year, which replaced the Procurement Act and abolished the State Procurement Board (SPB), a body which was conducting procurement on behalf of government entities.

SPB was replaced by PRAZ, which now oversees public procurement in the country, transferring public procurement to government ministries, parastatals and local authorities, representing a paradigm shift from the SPB era.

Section 30 of the new law states that competitive bidding method of procurement should be the normal method of procurement to be employed by procurement entities, unless circumstances demand, the other methods such as restricted bidding, direct procurement and request for quotations should be employed.

A special oversight committee, which will review the procurement process, has been set up. This includes the attorney general, the accountant general, the auditor-general and the principal director in the Ministry of Local Government, Public Works and National Housing.

The new law has also given birth to the adoption of electronic procurement (e-procurement).

The e-procurement is expected to address historical loopholes in the public procurement system and ensure fairness, honesty, cost effectiveness and competition.

The new system will result in increased disclosure of procurement data, monitoring and oversight of procurement activities and increased participation. This will strengthen public financial management as there will be availability of real time expenditure data and improved service delivery to the citizens.