BY TINASHE KAIRIZA/MELODY CHIKONO
PRESIDENT Emmerson Mnangagwa’s cash-strapped government is set to splurge at least US$1 million on 35 new off-road double cab Toyota vehicles for top bureaucrats in the Home Affairs ministry.
Interestingly, the decision comes at a time when the ministry recently terminated a tender to install an advanced border control system to enhance security at Zimbabwe’s porous ports of entry and exit.
This week, the Home Affairs ministry flighted a tender inviting bids for the procurement of 35 brand new Toyota vehicles for its senior officers after the department cancelled an expression of interest to procure a modern border control system meant to enhance security at Zimbabwe’s borders.
Last year, Home Affairs minister Kazembe Kazembe indicated that the country is prejudiced of US$1,2 billion annually as a result of mineral smuggling.
Under terms of the tender notice, the ministry intends to procure 34 Toyota 4×4 double cab diesel-powered off-roaders (2,8 litres) and a single Toyota 4×4 single cab diesel vehicle (2,4 litres).
The ministry also intends to purchase a brand new Toyota Quantum minibus.
Mnangagwa this week also handed out 18 vehicles to chiefs after unveiling the statue of Mbuya Nehanda in the capital.
A survey by the Zimbabwe Independent this week shows that a Toyota 4×4 double cab ranges between US$50 000 and US$60 000.
A fortnight ago, the ministry terminated a tender inviting suppliers to submit bids for the installation of an Online Border Management System (OBMS) without specifying the exact reasons why the transaction was shelved.
In a public notice flighted May 16, the ministry noted: “Notice of cancellation of Expression of Interest for The Provision of Online Border Management System (OBMS) For the Department of Immigration: Ministry of Home Affairs and Cultural Heritage.
“In line with Section 42 of the Public Procurement and Disposal of Public Assets, the Ministry of Home Affairs and Cultural Heritage has cancelled the Expression of Interest for the design, supply, installation configuration and implementation of Online Border Management System at all ports of entry, exit and town offices for the department of Immigration Control which was advertised on 7 February 2021.”
The notice read: “The cancellation is on account of significant change in the technical details of the procurement requirements, circumstances which have led to the cancellation of the Expression of Interest.”
Cancellation of the multi-million-dollar tender for the installation of the modern border management system came in the wake of a spate of gold smuggling cases through the lax Robert Mugabe International Airport.
Earlier this month, South Africa’s Hawks crime crack unit arrested Tashinga Masinire at the OR Tambo Airport while attempting to smuggle an R11-million gold contraband. Masinire, who is due to appear in court in South Africa on July 2, had booked a flight at the Robert Mugabe International Airport travelling to South Africa.
Last year, the Military Intelligence Department (MID) also nabbed Zimbabwe Miners Federation (ZMF) president Henrietta Rushwaya at the Robert Mugabe International Airport as she attempted to smuggle 6kg of gold worth US$366 000 to Dubai.
Last week, an official at the home affairs ministry could not explain the specific “significant change in the technical details of the procurement requirements” leading to the cancellation of the tender to procure the OBMS.
The official, who requested anonymity, referred this reporter to the Public Procurement and Disposal of Public Assets Act, which specifies circumstances under which procurement entities can terminate tenders.
Section 42 of the legislation outlines six reasons which a procuring entity can invoke to terminate a tender.
An entity can reverse a tender if the “need for the procurement has ceased to exist or changed significantly, insufficient funding is available for the procurement and if there is a significant change in the technical details of the procurement requirement, or in the bidding conditions, contractual terms or other particulars so that the procurement proceedings need to be recommenced.”
A tender can also be reversed if no responsive bids are received; there is evidence of collusion among bidders; and if “it is otherwise in the public interest.”
For cancelling the tender to procure the technologically advanced border management system, the Home Affairs ministry noted that there was “a significant change in the technical details of the procurement requirement”.
At the time of going to print, the ministry could not explain the specific changes in the technical details of the procurement requirement, necessitating the cancellation.
The immigration department, which was directly going to manage the border management system, referred questions posed by the Zimbabwe Independent to the Home Affairs ministry.
An investigation by the Independent revealed that the border online management system drew overwhelming interest from leading players in the border control management and aviation industry, particularly from China and the United States.
The investigation by this publication shows that US-based Securiport also submitted a bid for the lucrative tender.
A perusal of Securiport’s website shows that the firm prides itself as: “a trusted leader throughout the border security community”.
Installation of the advanced border management system has become a convoluted process, with top government officials reportedly manoeuvring to strategically position their preferred suitors.