Parly Clerk graft case remanded to Aug 1

CLERK of Parliament Kennedy Mugove Chokuda

CLERK of Parliament Kennedy Mugove Chokuda’s criminal abuse of office case involving acquisition of computers has been moved to August 1, 2023 pending finalisation of investigations.

Chokuda and Parliament’s procurement director Stanley Bhebhe are being accused of handpicking a supplier for laptops and desktops to Parliament in breach of set procedures.

The duo, which is on $100 000 bail each, yesterday appeared before Harare magistrate Stanford Mambanje.

It is the State’s case that on June 17, 2022, Parliament flighted a tender inviting interested bidders for the supply and delivery of 173 laptops and 79 desktops for Tender No: POZ2/OOM/013/2022. The closing date was July 15, 2022.

A total of 92 companies expressed interest, but they were later reduced to 30 after disqualification of others for different reasons.

On August 29, Parliament awarded the tender to Mid-End Computers for the supply and delivery of 79 desktops at US$3 076 each with a total value of US$243 052,59 payable at the interbank rate.

However, Treasury refused to release the payment saying the prices were too high.

The prices also triggered an outcry among legislators and ordinary citizens.

On September 30, Bhebhe then originated a letter on the instructions of Chokuda to the Procurement Regulatory Authority of Zimbabwe (Praz) asking for authority to negotiate price reduction.

He allegedly instructed the Parliament director of external relations Rudo Doka to append her signature on behalf of Chokuda, who was said to be in Bulawayo.

Praz told Parliament that negotiating price reduction was contrary to section 52 of the Procurement Act, which prohibits negotiations between procuring entities and bidders.

When Chokuda and Bhebhe asked for price reduction authority from Praz on September 16, 2022, they had already negotiated with Noah Sakudye, the director of Mid-End Computers on September 7, 2022.

The price was then reduced from US$243 000 to US$180 000 for the 79 desktops.

The meeting was chaired by Parliament’s chief director of finance, Bernard Zvamada.

The State alleges that the Standard Bidding Document issued to bidders had no signed declaration by Chokuda, who is the accounting officer, to the effect that the procuring entity is based on neutral and fair technical requirements violating section 20(2)(c) of the Public Procurement and Disposal of Public Assets (PPDPA) (General) Regulations.

It is alleged that the accused persons on pages 16-17 of the Standard Bidding Document specified that they required HP laptops on Lot 1 in violation of section 27(2) of the PPDPA (General) Regulations.

The State said by negotiating price reduction, issuing an unsigned standard bidding document to bidders and specifying the brand of laptops required, the accused persons acted contrary to and inconsistent with their duties as public officers.

Chokuda was supposed to cancel the contract and re-tender, but he went on to negotiate the price.

The State further alleges that on August 29, Blinart Investments (Pvt) Ltd was notified by the Parliament of Zimbabwe that it had been awarded a contract for the supply and delivery of 173 laptops at US$9 264,49 each with a total value of US$1 602 755,77 payable at interbank rate.

Again, Treasury refused to release payment citing inflated prices.

Using the same modus operandi, they negotiated the price downward with Blinart Investments director Elizabeth Muchenje, from US$9 264,49 to US$7 985,69 in violation of procurement procedures.

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