Parly erred on laptops: Praz

Kennedy Chokuda

THE Procurement Regulatory Authority of Zimbabwe (Praz) says Parliament flouted procurement regulations in a laptops tender which has widely been described as corrupt.

This follows recent revelations that Clerk of Parliament, Kennedy Chokuda, authorised a tender for the supply of 173 laptops valued at US$9 200 each to Parliament.  These were deemed over-priced by the Finance ministry.

According to the leaked official communication, Bilnart Investments P/L won the tender to supply Parliament with 173 laptops for $1 602 755,77, translating to US$9 200 per gadget.

Another company, Mid-End Computers and Hardware, was contracted to supply 79 desktop computers, and it also over-priced the gadgets at above US$3 000 each.

In a letter dated September 23, Chokuda then said the tender had been cancelled in the public interest.

Yesterday, Praz chief executive officer Clever Ruswa appeared before the Public Accounts Committee (Pac) where he said Parliament failed to follow procurement regulations.

This was after legislators quizzed him over whether there was value for money in the purchase.

“Was the Parliament purchase in the public interest?” Norton MP Temba Mliswa (Independent) asked Ruswa

In response, Ruswa said he wanted to avoid such questions to segregate duties with other arms of government.

“In August I met some executives from the procurement entity where we deliberated on this issue and gave  guidance to say when we are faced with such situations, invoke section 42 of the Procurement Act, which states that you can cancel citing budgetary constraints because there is no way you can go ahead with a procurement which is four times what is budgeted for,” Ruswa said.

“Unfortunately, from the documents that we have, and that the Zimbabwe Anti-Corruption Commission is looking at, there were negotiations that were done with suppliers where(by) they are saying they negotiated to reduce that price, yet that particular Act does not allow for negotiation.

“The other issue that needs to be looked at a different forum is that for us as a regulator, we get worried when the bidders are now refusing to offer certain information to confirm their pricing, and they are refusing,” he said.

Ruswa said Praz observations showed that from the period Parliament wanted to acquire the laptops, there was a lot of fluidity on the market.

“Parliament should improve its bidding processes,” Ruswa said.

Bilnart managing director Elizabeth Muchenje was also quizzed by MPs over the inflated laptop prices.

MPs demanded a breakdown of how the company came up with the prices.

“The rate that we used was the official prevailing rate at that time. That is the one we used, we were going to supply these in three batches because of the quantity, and this is how we operate in business. I’m a businessperson. I did 94 tenders from January to September, and out of those we managed to get four. We do business, I’m a very serious person,” Muchenje said.

Asked on whether she would take Parliament to court for cancelling the tender, she responded: “I don’t have the resources to do that.”


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