DEPUTY Chief Secretary in the Office of the President and Cabinet Ray Ndhlukula has sent a chilling warning to parastatal heads to adhere to the country’s procurement laws or risk being jailed.
BY FIDELITY MHLANGA
Officiating at a sensitisation workshop for the Public Procurement and Disposal of Public Assets Act yesterday, Ndhlukula cautioned parastatals to desist from external pressures from politicians in the awarding of contracts.
“I am told that there are 93 State-owned enterprises here present today. And being an optimist that I am, I am positive that this workshop will culminate in a new understanding on what to do, in as far as public procurement and disposal of public assets is concerned. But while being an optimist expecting honesty, integrity and professionalism in as far as public procurement,” he said.
“There is the other side of me that needs to be realistic and say there have been one or two rogue elements that spoil the apple. Because what I am saying is we have 93 procuring entities sitting here, that’s what it means with the new Act. One or two will strain and we will be reading them in the newspapers, having been sent to Chikurubi. That’s why I am saying overally 99% of these will be optimists, but the 1% is very doubtful. But I hope that we won’t get there.”
The workshop was meant to sensitise parastatal heads on the Public Procurement and Disposal of Public Assets Act which was gazetted last year.
Zimbabwe is working on reforms to revamp procurement in government departments, ministries, parastatals and local authorities meant to ensure efficiency and quality service delivery.
The procurement reforms are financed by Zimref, a World Bank-administered multi-donor trust established to strengthen Zimbabwe’s systems for reconstruction and development, with a focus on stabilisation and reform, development and poverty alleviation.
Ndhlukula said the new legislation provides for the separation of operational and regulatory functions of the procurement authority and the establishment of the board of the authority.
Early this month, an eight-member board for the Procurement Regulatory Authority of Zimbabwe was appointed and is headed by lawyer, Vimbai Nyemba.
Ndhlukula urged parastatal heads to be professional, saying they have to withstand the pressure from service providers and politicians.
“When you stand before the Public Accounts committee and before Procurement Regulatory Authority of Zimbabwe and you can’t answer, you will end up in Chikurubi all by yourself. So please be careful, “he warned.
The new Act provides a landscape upon which the government can now implement the provisions of public procurement in conformity with the dictates of the market, corporate governance principles, regional and international bad practices.
Ndhlukula said the new administration’s vision was to ensure that public sector systems, processes and institutions are enablers of sustainable socio-economic development and better livelihoods for the people.
“Reforming and modernisation of the State procurement board is one key element of ensuring that central government, parastatals and State Enterprises, as well as local authorities become more transparent and accountable in discharging their mandates, hence improving corporate governance and service delivery to the citizenry in line with the requirements of the new government’s vision,” he said.
Public procurement plays a central role in the acquisition of goods and services in an efficient, effective, expeditious manner with the ultimate aim of guaranteeing value for money for the taxpayer.
“As part of professionalisation and modernisation, the new act provides that public procurement officers be regulated to enhance the integrity of public procurement. In view of the aforesaid and to
ensure that competent personnel regulated by code of ethics are employed,” Ndhlukula said.