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State Procurement Board under fire

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The State Procurement Board (SPB) yesterday came under fire from stakeholders who accused it of snubbing locals by awarding lucrative contracts to foreign firms.

Participants at a public hearing organised by the Parliamentary Portfolio Committee on Budget, Finance and Investment Promotion at the Rainbow Towers in Harare accused the SPB of bias against local entrepreneurs.

Construction Industry Federation of Zimbabwe (CIFOZ) president Daniel Garwe accused the SPB of flouting a 1993 government statutory instrument that compels it to prioritise local firms ahead of foreign-owned businesses in the awarding of tenders.

“A majority of projects are awarded to foreign companies and these do not even develop local skills and they are not bringing in equipment. In fact, they are hiring small equipment from us and are not paying us on time,” said Garwe.

“If we do not act now, our industries are going to collapse and they are even bringing labourers and ignoring professionals like engineers when it comes to taking recommendations or evaluating jobs.”

CIFOZ vice president Gift Mpofu also said: “To be the lowest does not necessarily mean to say you are comprehensive. Government should not float new construction tenders when there are buildings which have gone for the past 12 years without being completed. Let us make sure they are complete before we embark on new ones.”

Public Works ministry principal director Retired Colonel Joseph Mhakayakora told the committee that it was “ridiculous” to go to tender for a project worth $50 000, especially in the construction industry.

“The SPB should come up with limits of $500 000 to $1 million. They should also limit the time that they take to conclude tenders because it stalls projects,” Mhakayakora said.

Finance minister Tendai Biti recently blasted SPB.

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