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Russian choppers deal raises dust

by Staff reporter
19 May 2023 at 20:43hrs | Views
ZIMBABWE yesterday took delivery of 18 helicopters from Russia under a public-private partnership (PPP) deal, but critics questioned why their procurement has been shrouded in secrecy.

Government has said the choppers would be used as air ambulances, search and rescue, and air policing while sources said they would also be used for VIP transport and the Air Force.

It said the procurement of the helicopters was done under a PPP arrangement with Russia, but details of the private companies involved were not revealed.

"Private-public partnership means the money used belongs to the public and there should be accountability," observed one critic who declined identification.

"It also means there are private companies involved, but why has government only revealed State actors? Was this deal put to tender?"

This comes at a time when government is still reeling from the abortive attempt to hide from the public and taxpayers procurement under the Public Procurement and Disposal of Public Assets Act of construction equipment

and materials, biomedical and medical equipment, medicines and drugs (pharmaceuticals), vehicles including ambulances, laboratory equipment, chemicals and accessories, hospital protective equipment and their repair or maintenance and machinery.

President Emmerson Mnangagwa eventually repealed the controversial law in an Extraordinary Government Gazette yesterday, over two weeks after its publication.

It's not clear if the helicopters were acquired under the controversial law, which legal experts say was in force for a fortnight before its repeal.

"It is hereby notified that His Excellency the President has with immediate effect cancelled the declaration set forth in General Notice 635 of 2023; that general notice is accordingly repealed," said the Chief Secretary to the President and Cabinet, Misheck Sibanda.

"Public Procurement and Disposal of Public Assets Act [Chapter 22:23]: Special Procurements in the Public Interest: Health Service: General Notice 635 of 2023, repealed."

Last week, Sibanda had insisted that the controversial "looting" law was published without his signature as is the norm.

Officials also pointed out that the law was gazetted without Mnangagwa's knowledge and when he was attending the coronation of King Charles III in London, the United Kingdom.

Source - newsday