Indigenous firms rip off govt

DESPITE the indigenisation programme being widely trumpeted by Zanu PF as the key to economically empowering Zimbabwe’s majority, indigenous suppliers are the biggest culprits in ripping off government by inflating tenders for government hospitals, an official investigation has revealed.

Staff Writer

According to a 151-page report titled Investigations Report on the Procurement Processes by Government Hospitals under the Targeted Approach by the National Economic Conduct Inspectorate (NECI), indigenous business people are burdening the national fiscus by charging inflated prices, with some overcharging by more than 100%.

“On prices, the government is being ripped off by suppliers who in general are the indigenous businessmen,” NECI said in the report. “… Some of them are putting a mark-up of more than 100%, putting pressures on the already overstretched financial resources of the fiscus.”

The report exposed corruption and flagrant flouting of State Procurement Board (SBP) procedures at hospitals, noting all hospitals had in some way violated the Procurement Act, its regulations and procedures.

This included the failure to adhere to stipulations like seeking competitive bids, failure to advertise in the press as well as failure to send all purchases above US$50 000 for SPB adjudication.

“… It seems hospitals were also operating in a vacuum as they seem to have deliberately ignored purchasing procedures as stipulated by the Procurement Act,” the report stated.

The NECI expressed concern that problems encountered would become more pronounced with the coming on board of mission hospitals if no stringent monitoring measures are in place.

It called for the investigation of companies to establish how they found themselves on the “favoured” list and if their preferential treatment was due to payment of bribes. The NECI recommended quarterly audits be carried out on “targeted approach monies” by auditors from the Ministry of Health and the Comptroller and Auditor-General.

It also suggested the presence of professionals on both the central buying unit and the procurement tender committee, the blacklisting of companies found to be overpricing commodities and preventing them from supplying any government departments and hospitals.

Anti-Corruption Commission chairperson Denford Chirindo refused to confirm they had received the damning report.

“I cannot confirm or deny that we have received the report because doing so compromises investigations if ever there are any,” Chirindo told the Zimbabwe Independent on Wednesday.

However, another source within the commission pleaded with this paper not to publish the story saying this would alert suspects who would prepare their defence.

“Munobhururutsa shiri (you will alert the suspects),” he said, “and in any event, the case will be heard in the courts once we wrap up our investigations. That is the appropriate time when you will hear everything because the courts are open for all to attend.”