The Procurement Regulatory Authority of Zimbabwe (Praz) and Transparency International Zimbabwe (TIP) – a public resources accountability lobby group, have combined forces to fight the rampant corruption in the public procurement system.
The country’s public procurement processes have been at fault with many recent examples pointing to malpractices in the manner tenders are awarded and public assets are disposed of.
Speaking at the signing of the Memorandum of understanding between the two entities, Praz Chief Executive Officer, Clever Ruswa said the collaborative effort will enhance transparency and move towards international best practices.
“We will have an exchange of notes on the technical aspects and the regulations in public procurement. The relationship will involve training sessions including focussing on corruption trends and counter strategies to corruption in public procurement,” he said.
The partnership will see Praz provide technical and regulatory assistance on public procurement matters while TIZ will provide regional and international best practices.
Government is the biggest buyer of various goods and services in any economy hence public procurement plays a critical role in ensuring that public resources are put to good use.
According to the World Trade Organisation (WTO), public procurement accounts between 10- 15 per cent of the global economy.
However, due to the lucrative nature of the business, public procurement often turns out to be a fertile ground for corruption as various forces come into play- from bidders who offer bribes to political heavyweights who arm-twist the process.
“COVID-19 served as an eye-opener key stakeholders with a series of scandals in public procurement of essential materials. The signing of this MoU is one of those collaborative efforts to fight this corruption,” said TIZ executive director, Muchaneta Mundopa.
She added that vulnerability in public procurement emanates from the volumes of the transactions, the monetary interest at stake and complex dynamics of state capture.
Praz has also revealed that it is in the process of finalizing its portal that will enhance the transparency of the bidding system as bidders will now have to apply electronically and the public can then have the privilege of scrutinising the applicants and the documentations.
The country’s public procurement system has one of the continent’s well structured legislative support, but due to political interference and corruption in the tender processes, a lot of state resources have been looted.
In most cases, undeserving bidders are awarded tenders for services not rendered or price of services and goods end up being inflated to recover money lost during bribes for the job and all this weighs heavily on the purse of the taxpayers.
Recently, the government awarded Sakunda tender worth billions of US dollars to finance a controversial agriculture scheme dubbed command agriculture which failed to yield tangible results without having gone through the tender process.
Early this, inflated prices of COVID-19 personal protective equipment worth millions of dollars leaked before they had been paid for but a contractor had been awarded the deal without going through tender.