Ethics in procurement vital

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The test of the legality of a procurement process is determined by the Procurement Act in the public sector.

Morality and ethical issues are difficult to provide for in the Procurement Act. A code of ethics is therefore required to compliment the procurement laws, and it is necessary at this point to ensure the corporate governance framework being drafted incorporates such issue.

Serious employers consider professionals in procurement employment. Applicants from members of recognised professional bodies have an employment advantage just because they prescribe to a code of ethics.

Buyers affiliated to the Chartered Institute of Purchasing and Supply (CIPS) are marketable because they are bound by the Charter, Constitution, Memorandum and Articles of Association, Rules and By-Laws of the Institute.

The CIPS Code of Ethics is binding to all members for the comfort of employers.

The issues Zimbabwe is struggling with in procurement includes, but is not limited to abuse of office, bias in decision-making because of personal interests, confidentiality, management of competition and treatment of business gifts and hospitality. Many media reports related to this have been published in the past.

Employers are opting for CIPS professionals because of the CIPS Code of Ethics that has a clear minimum conduct of members. CIPS code does not allow members to use their authority or office for personal gain.

They are required to uphold the standing of the purchasing and supply profession and the institute by:
Maintaining an unimpeachable standard of integrity in all business relationships, both inside and outside organisations which they are employed.
Fostering the highest possible standards of professional competence amongst those whom they are responsible.
Optimising the use of resources for which they are responsible to provide the maximum benefit to their employing organisation.
Complying both with the letter and spirit of the law of the country in which they practice; such guidance of professional practice as may be issued by the Institute from time to time; contractual obligations, and; rejecting any business practice that might be reasonably deemed improper.
In upholding these precepts, members are expected to follow the set of guidelines to:
Declare any interest that may impinge, or which might reasonably be deemed by others to impinge, on a members impartiality in any matter relevant to their duties. This aspect is also covered by the Procurement Act in Zimbabwe.
Maintain confidentiality and provide accurate information in the course should never use such for personal gains. Information given in the course of duty should be true and accurate.
Allow for competition while bearing in mind the advantages to the employer of maintaining a continuing relationship with a supplier, any arrangement which might, in the long term, prevent effective operation of fair competition should be avoided.

Business gifts with exception of items of very small intrinsic value, such as diaries and calenders, should not be accepted.

Modest hospitality is an acceptable courtesy of a business relationship.

However, the receiver should not allow self to reach a position whereby he might be deemed by others to have been influenced in making a business decision as a consequence of accepting hospitality.

The frequency and scale of hospitality should not be significantly more than the receivers employers are likely to provide in return.

Employers need to be aware of the fact in the case of suspected breach of the CIPS Code of Ethics by an employee, CIPS can be engaged to investigate and discipline the member.

Depending with the gravity of the charge, members may be suspended or delisted and public notification is issued by the institute.