Kuwaza revealed to businessdigest that he had written to Biti to register the board’s concerns over press statements attributed to the minister, which suggested that the SPB was failing to carry out its mandate. In the letter, Kuwaza protested the increasing pitch and regularity of Biti’s attacks.
“We believe that your advisors, some of whom are of questionable morality and have little experience in the administration of tenders, are deliberately misleading you for what we see as very clearly ulterior motives. They want to get control of the State Procurement Board, and get rid of the Chairman, (who) is considered a workaholic and too wide-eyed, “ Kuwaza said in the letter to Biti.
Presenting his March 2012 state of the economy report last week, Biti alleged that the government’s procurement arm was causing huge project delays which were costing the government a lot of money.
Biti said the SPB was inordinately delaying the approval process for tenders and in some cases approving incompetent companies that did not have the necessary capacity to carry out work on government projects.
Earlier this year the Minister said the SPB was awarding tenders to undeserving bidders, some of whom were blacklisted by government, a charge that Kuwaza also dismissed. The minister accused the board of awarding a tender for the supply, delivery and installation of eight passenger lifts at Kaguvi Building to Eleco Elevator Company, an entity which he said had been blacklisted by government.
In a letter to Biti dated February 12 2012, Kuwaza asserts that at no time did the board consider barring or blacklisting Eleco Elevators, challenging the person(s) making the claims to adduce evidence of such blacklisting.
The SPB chairman also queried why it had taken over two years for anybody to raise a complaint or appeal about the execution of the contract. He said SPB had on more than three occasions offered to meet with the Minister since last year to discuss any real issues.
“We were accused of sitting on water projects which turned out to be false. We were once again accused of slowing down national projects, including the lifts at Kaguvi Building, which again was false”, Kuwaza said.
He said the delays in implementing government projects were instead due mainly to funding problems and a lack of other resources. The SPB was also aware that hundreds of projects, some more than 14 years old, including the building of central registry offices in the districts and elsewhere, had not been completed due to lack of resources. Many building projects were at window level and deteriorating very fast. The Harare-Masvingo and Harare-Norton dualisation projects were some of the major projects that Kuwaza gave as examples of having been stunted by lack of funding.
“We have advised the Ministry of Finance and other high offices to limit the number of projects to a figure that can be afforded at any point in time,” Kuwaza pointed out.