Government moves to end procurement graft

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ZIMBABWE is crafting a law aimed at professionalising the practice of public procurement in a bid to curb rampant corruption bedevilling the country’s tender process, the Daily News reports.

This comes as the government is currently restructuring the Procurement Regulatory Authority of Zimbabwe (Praz) owing to widespread corruption in public procurement, including the procurement of coronavirus (Covid-19) supplies.

Speaking during the official opening of Praz’s virtual summer school held online yesterday, the permanent secretary in Vice President Constantino Chiwenga’s office, Godfrey Chanakira, said the draft professionalisation regulations were currently under review by the Attorney-General’s office.

“I wish to advise that the process of professionalising the practice of public procurement in Zimbabwe has begun. The process is intended to ensure that public procurement practitioners adhere to high ethical standards.

“When the draft professionalisation regulations currently being reviewed by the Attorney-General’s office become law, persons practising public procurement will be required to be qualified and in possession of a valid licence to practice.

“While being professionally qualified and licensed does not eliminate corrupt tendencies in a person, it does help to hold such persons to account by laying down expected standards of behaviour by which their conduct will be judged. Deviant conduct and behaviour will result in the licence to practice being withdrawn. It is hoped that this will deter wrongful practices,” Chanakira said.

He added that by its nature public procurement was one of the activities that were most vulnerable to corruption.

“In addition to the volume of transactions and the financial interests at stake, corruption risks are exacerbated by the complexity of the process, the close interaction between public officials and businesses, and the multitude of stakeholders.

“As the line ministry, the Office of the Vice President expects Praz to expedite the gazetting of the Professionalisation Regulations which is now long overdue. This will bring into force the mandatory licensing public procurement officials and help curtail corruption and other unbecoming conduct by persons employed in public procurement capacities,” he said.

Chanakira indicated that the government was undertaking procurement reforms in order to ensure efficient delivery of goods and services to the public through the acquisition of quality goods and services at least cost by government departments, parastatals and local authorities.

“Expenditure on public procurement to provide public goods and services such as health, education, defence and infrastructure is significant, in some cases accounting for up to 70 percent of a country’s national budget. Well spent public funds on public procurement should, therefore, benefit the majority of citizens,” he said.

Chanakira added that the government was also expediting the implementation of the Electronic Government Procurement System (e-GP) in order to regulate a fair and transparent public procurement system.

“With e-GP, public procurement announcements will be made through ICT platforms. This will increase transparency, facilitate public access to tenders, reduce direct interaction between procurement officials and companies, increase outreach and competition, and allow for easier detection of irregularities and corrupt practices such as bid rigging.

“The digitisation of procurement processes will strengthen internal anti-corruption controls and detection of integrity breaches. It will also provide audit trails that will ease investigation of irregularities,” he said.

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