Govt entities defy procurement law 

Source: Govt entities defy procurement law | The Herald November 28, 2018

Govt entities defy procurement lawMr Chizu

Africa Moyo and Kudakwashe Mhundwa
GOVERNMENT departments, principally local authorities, continue to defy the requirements of the Public Procurement and Disposal of Public Assets (PPDPA) Act which dictates that procuring entities must register with the authority.

Of the 294 Government departments, 174 of them have not yet submitted their registration applications, implying a 59,1 percent non-compliance rate.

A measly 85 Government departments have complied while 35 applications are under review.

This was said by the Procurement Regulatory Authority of Zimbabwe (PRAZ) chief executive officer Nyasha Chizu during a media breakfast meeting in Harare yesterday.

Mr Chizu said local authorities were the biggest culprits.

“In terms of challenges (regards implementation of the Act), they say the only thing that is constant is change. We have the issues of resistance to change,” said Mr Chizu.

“The notable ones are the local authorities . . . the message is one, ‘procurement was a function of administration or HR (human resources)’.

“So it was either the responsibility of HR or finance. So the message (at the local authorities’ seminars) was ‘procurement was any other duty for me’. So that is total resistance.”

The PPDPA demands that institutions should separate the procurement function from all other duties.

However, some defiant administrators continue to impose themselves on the procurement of departments they represent.

Out of 12 town councils, five have not submitted while of the five local boards, four have not yet applied.

In terms of rural district councils 51 out of 61 have not complied, with only one of nine municipalities remaining defiant.

Out of 119 parastatals, 64 have not submitted applications while 26 out of 37 universities and colleges have also not complied.

Regards ministries and departments, 11 out of 28 are yet to apply, together with 12 out of 16 hospitals.

While it could not be established why the bulk of Government departments are yet to comply with the law, it can only be speculated that they want to continue to exploit the loopholes in the previous procurement laws to line their pockets as was the norm then.

If the Government departments continue to defy the law, they face severe penalties.

Section 94 of the PPDPA Act says any officers that procure above the threshold without approval face a minimum of level 6 fine and imprisonment not exceeding six months.

Corporates found guilty of the same offence face a level 10 fine. The maximum punishment for both individuals and corporates is level 14 fine.

The defiance by entities comes despite massive sensitisation programmes by PRAZ to increase the procuring entities understanding of the new law.

Corruption became a cancer in the public sector, particularly in the last days of former President Robert Mugabe’s reign.

But President Mnangagwa has declared war on corrupt individuals, with a number of high profile characters such as Intratrek Zimbabwe boss Mr Wicknell Chivayo and a number of former ministers including Dr Samuel Undenge, Dr Walter Mzembi, Dr Ignatious Chombo and Mr Walter Chidhakwa, appearing before the courts on various charges.

Going forward, PRAZ is working on various guiding frameworks that will set the pace for procurement activities in the country, with the aim of entrenching professionalism and curbing corruption.

PRAZ is a new authority that plays a supervisory and monitoring role to ensure Government entities comply with the new procurement law.

Previously, the State Procurement Board (SPB) was responsible for facilitating public procurement but concerns arose following reports of rampant corruption in the awarding of tenders, even for projects that never took place.

With the SPB disbanded, PRAZ now merely oversees the implementation of the PPDPA Act, awarding of tenders is now being done by accounting officers in various State departments and companies.