Establishing a ministerial portfolio that superintends over public sector procurement and enacting a new law that enables citizens to sue corrupt public officials would help strengthen the fight against corruption, according to the Zimbabwe Anti-Corruption Commission (Zacc).
The recommendations are contained in a research on corruption in public procurement done in line with Section 255 (1) (h) of the Constitution, which allows Zacc “to make recommendations to the Government and other persons on measures to enhance integrity, accountability and prevent improper conduct in the public and private sectors”.
Zacc spokesperson Commissioner John Makamure said the submissions for a new ministry that deals with public sector procurement have since been submitted to the Office of the President and Cabinet, and would soon be tabled before Parliament.
“Remember, every Government entity and institution at every level is accountable to Parliament. The dissemination workshops (held last week) were well-attended by the relevant stakeholders who unanimously endorsed our findings and recommendations,” he said.
“We strongly believe implementation of these findings and recommendations will go a long way in preventing corruption.”
It is envisaged that the mulled portfolio would house the Procurement Regulatory Authority of Zimbabwe (Praz) and the Office of the Ombudsman for Public Procurement.
Most of the major arrests involving senior Government officials are linked to public procurement. Zacc chair Justice Loyce Matanda-Moyo recently warned ministers against being involved in procurement process as this has a negative bearing on how junior officers carry out their duties. The anti-graft body also recommended introducing a new law — the Zimbabwe False Claims Act (ZWFCA) — that enables citizens to privately sue perpetrators of corruption in public sector procurement.
Zacc is lobbying for prosecutorial powers and adequate resources to track procurement malpractices. Other recommendations include the adoption of laws that enable civil society and independent monitors to monitor public sector procurement, including carrying out a Corruption Vulnerability Assessment (CVA) for all public sector projects that exceed values of US$50 000.
The corrupting-fighting body is also pushing to ensure that the e-procurement platform is used at all times by the public sector. There are suggestions to scout for technical assistance from international organisations to strengthen procurement policies and capacity.
Increasing accountability and transparency on non-competitive bidding for projects or procurements of strategic importance is also being recommended.
According to Zacc, corruption bidders have to be blacklisted and shamed.
Experts say corruption in the public procurement sector leads to unfair tax burdens on the poor as corrupt public officials continuously raise taxation rates to fund corrupt-ridden public expenditures.
Last week, Treasury allocated $3,6 billion to Zacc, the National Prosecuting Authority (NPA), ZRP (Minerals, Flora and Fauna), the Auditor-General Office and Praz to improve to “capacitate and enable their effectiveness”.