Source: AG bitter over Transport ministry’s intransigence – NewsDay Zimbabwe November 1, 2017
ATTORNEY-General Prince Machaya has expressed concern over the conduct of senior officials in the Transport ministry regarding the operationalisation of a government tender meant to computerise State agencies and departments reported as most corrupt.
BY RICHARD CHIDZA
Transport minister Joram Gumbo and officials in his ministry are demanding that the joint venture project, known as the Zimbabwe Integrated Transport Information Systems (Zimitis) awarded to Univern Enterprises in 2016 through direct tender by the State Procurement Board (SPB), should go to open tender instead.
But in a letter copied to Deputy Chief Secretary to the President and Cabinet Ray Ndlukula, permanent secretaries Machivenyika Mapuranga (Transport), Melusi Matshiya (Home Affairs), George Mlilo (Local Government), Ringson Chitsiko (Agriculture) and Willard Manungo (Finance), Machaya argues there is no legal basis for not implementing the project.
“The Attorney-General has carefully studied all the documents and looked closely at the law and jurisprudence in the area. The Attorney-General is of the opinion that the decision of the State Procurement Board to award the contract cannot be faulted. In fact, it is eminently reasonable,” he said.
“The Attorney-General notes from the documents supplied that the contractual obligations arising from these contracts between the various entities were mainly honoured or are at advanced stages of implementation.”
He indicated that the Transport ministry wanted the tenders cancelled, arguing the request was “fraught with grave legal difficulties”.
“Firstly, there is no indication given that Univern failed to perform, there should be an indication as which contracts are involved. It is apparent that the contracts are not inserverable,” the letter warns.
He added that once the SPB has made a decision, it becomes “functus officio” [duty or authority has come to an end], thus, cannot re-adjudicate its own awards.
Machaya said the Transport ministry had sought to run a parallel project by raising an informal tender that was subsequently invalidated by the Supreme Court.
Mapuranga, who was assigned to the ministry recently, has insisted on the implementation of the project, but is reportedly being “undermined” by senior officials with a “sinister agenda driven by greed”.
Machaya said according to the Procurement Act, President Robert Mugabe had power to “issue policy directive to the SPB”, adding the request for open tender by Gumbo’s ministry was not policy, but actually “infringes upon the independence and core business of the SPB”.
“The existing tender award is in accordance and complimentary to the integrated approach of Zimtis project.
“It is far more prudent and pragmatic legal alternative is for the State, through the ministry, to abandon the informal tender and revert to the original and existing tender award. Any other route will be fraught with legal potholes and consequently grave costs,” Machaya’s letter reads in part.
The Zimtis project, according to Machaya’s letter, although it is a conglomeration of multi-contacts between multi-parties, in essence, it was a single integrated modernisation project with a single information system speaking to all various constituent elements.
Amid reports that key officials in the Transport ministry were reportedly throwing “spanners in the works”, Machaya argued that it was the ultimate responsibility of the Chief Secretary to the Office of the President and Cabinet, Misheck Sibanda “to supervise and co-ordinate the implementation of key government decisions by government ministries, departments and agencies”.