MPs reject Chinamasa proposal

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MPs on Wednesday rejected the proposed centralisation of the tender system for urban councils and described the proposed amendments to the General Laws Amendment Bill by Justice minister, Patrick Chinamasa, as retrogressive and likely to destabilise service delivery.

Chinamasa had proposed during the second reading stage of the General Laws Amendment Bill to effect amendments to ten Bills, including amendments to the Urban Councils Act that was going to confine the buying of goods and awarding of tenders in urban councils to Harare where the State Procurement Board is based.

MPs in the House of Assembly felt the amendments were against the spirit of decentralisation and equitable distribution of wealth.

Chairperson of the Parliamentary Portfolio Committee on Local Government, Urban and Rural Development, Lynette Karenyi, said if the proposed amendments were allowed to pass, it would disturb the smooth running of urban councils.

“Such a situation would compromise the quick procurement of goods which are of good quality, promotion of local companies and entrepreneurs and the independence of urban councils to obtain resources that could be utilised in the improvement of service delivery,” said Karenyi.

“There can never be correlation between centralisation and efficiency, hence centralising the procurement process would have ripple effects on the whole local government procurement system in Zimbabwe.”

She said centralisation would result in cases of emergencies not being addressed timeously, causing loss of life in cases of epidemics.

Bulawayo South MP, Eddie Cross, urged the house to reject the proposals saying they violated principles of devolution of power in local authorities.

Nyanga North MP, Douglas Mwonzora, said the Bills should not be passed until Chinamasa revisited problematic clauses, for example where a mandatory sentence of seven years to wildlife offenders had been proposed.

Kambuzuma MP, Willias Madzimure, said centralisation promoted corruption and was likely to overload the state Procurement Board.

“The need to amend the law must be driven by solid facts and if allowed to sail through, the amendments would make the work of Local Authorities almost impossible and service delivery will be affected,” said Madzimure.

Chinamasa consented to deferring the passing of the Bill and said he would ask Local Government, Urban and Rural Development minister, Ignatius Chombo and Finance minister, Tendai Biti whose ministry is responsible for procurement to bring in separate Bills to deal with the issues raised.