Melody Chikono/Chiedza Kowo
THE Procurement Regulatory Authority of Zimbabwe (Praz) has proposed sweeping amendments to the Public Procurement and Disposal of Public Assets Act to tighten tender processes involved in the purchase of goods and services by public entities.
The Act will also be aligned to the 2013 Constitution.
Public procurement has largely been abused by senior government officials, including some ministers and high-level bureaucrats, who have been arrested for flouting tender regulations.
Tenderprenuers, which is a colloquial South African name for people who use their political connection to secure government contracts, have become overnight millionaires, as they take advantage of lax processes in public procurement.
Praz CEO Clever Ruswa said the enabling law the Public Procurement and Disposal of Public Assets Act has gaps which need urgent attention.
The proposed amendments will exempt the security sector from issuing public notices on procurement of certain goods, works and services.
The procuring entity shall keep a copy of such exemption, which will be inspected by the public at reasonable periods.
The clause initially applied only to the Ministry of Defence, but will now incorporate other security agencies.
“Section 3 of the principal Act is amended by the repeal of subsection (6) and substitution with the following section 3 (6) the minister with recommendations from the authority, that publication of information concerning certain procurements may prejudice the procuring entity concerned; may declare that no notice shall be issued to certain procurements of goods, works or services classified as procurement in the interest of defence, procurement in the public security, procurement of national interest, strategic procurement and procurement of trading stock by state entities operating in competitive markets,” he said.
Authorisation to conduct procurement by public entities will now be reduced to one year from two years as outlined in the principal Act.
Ruswa highlighted that the auditor general, Mildred Chiri recused herself from the special procurement oversight committee because she will also be auditing the same entities that are in the committee.
“Given this background, there will be an amendment to section 54 as follows: by the repeal of subsection 2 (b) for the provisions of the auditor general in the committee, by the insertion of the following new subsection 12: the quorum of the committee shall be subject to conditions of section 2,” he said.
Under the new amendments, procuring entities will be expected to notify bidders before the expiry of the period of bid validity and the contract shall not be signed until at least the number of days prescribed in the regulations has passed following a notice.
The proposed amendments will include issues related to bilateral engagements as the current section on application of joint ventures does not expound on such issues like the Zimbabwe Investment Developments Agency (Zida).
The changes to the public procurement law will also incorporate SMEs, youths and women-owned businesses to promote local content.