ED Declares War On Procurement Rot
President Emmerson Mnangagwa on Thursday issued a stern warning against corrupt tendencies that have become synonymous with the country’s public procurement system while threatening to cripple the economy.
Mnangagwa made the remarks while officially launching the Procurement Regulatory Authority of Zimbabwe (PRAZ).
PRAZ came into effect on January 1, 2018, after succeeding the State Procurement Board (SPB) which was much centralized, bureaucratic and more prone to manipulation of tender processes given that it operated on too much paperwork.
Mnangagwa said the procurement mal-practices should be a thing of the past as his government steps to plug financial leakages
“It is disheartening that purchasing and supplying activities have in the past been characterized by procurement malpractices such as bid-rigging, complementary bidding and inflating prices. In some cases, contracts were awarded without following proper tender procedures while awarding committee members who sometimes double as contractors,”
“These procurement malpractices in both private and public sectors must certainly stop,” said the President.
Procurement forms a critical role in Government operations as most state departments depend on acquiring essential goods and services from the ate sector.
PRAZ, therefore, assumes the responsibility of oversight and monitoring of the public procurement system on all state entities but unlike its predecessor, the SPB, it yields powers to approve tenders to respective state entities.
This has been widely hailed as a positive step, as the development dovetails with decentralization policy which is less intricate for monitoring and evaluation.
As part of the reforms, the government is shifting its procurement system to an electronic model for efficiency and transparency in line with the ease of doing business ethos.
President Mnangagwa donated 175 desktop computers to public procuring entities, namely Lupane State University, Bindura University, Public Service Commission, Ministry of Health and Child Care and Chinhoyi University.
“The digitalization will ensure efficiency in enhancing institutional and legislative reforms and improve Government capacity to adopt e-procurement in order to enhance transparency and efficiency regarding procurement,” PRAZ Chair Vimbai Nyemba said.
Zimbabwe is believed to have been prejudiced tens of billions of dollar in the past five years through rewarding of tenders to unqualified contractors who had to offer substandard services while many projects have been put on hold owing to inefficiencies arising from congested paperwork.
Analysts say PRAZ is a first step towards sanitizing the country’s opaque procurement system but call for sterner punitive measures for public officials who indulge in malpractices.
Among notable procurement sagas in recent times has been the ZESA Holdings’ awarding of a tender to Fruitful Communications to do its public relations work which was never done.