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Zimbabwe govt tightens screws on tenders

by Staff reporter
24 Oct 2023 at 05:58hrs | Views
CORRUPTION in the awarding of tenders will now be a thing of the past following the launch of the Electronic-Government Procurement (e-GP) system by President Mnangagwa yesterday.

The Electronic-Government Procurement system will minimise human involvement in the awarding of tenders and help tackle corruption.

An efficient and modern public procurement system which increases value for money, transparency and accountability while reducing pressure on the national budget can save as much as 30 percent for the fiscus.

This comes as the country is in a digitalisation overdrive by implementing policies and programmes that lay a strong digital foundation, which is key to realising the vision of an e-enabled Government.

The e-GP, which works by connecting various entities and processes through a centralised platform, will eliminate the need to manually carry out laborious, procurement-related tasks, exchanging supplier contracts and filling out supplier onboarding questionnaires.

Addressing guests at the Procurement Regulatory Authority of Zimbabwe Third Annual Procurement Conference in Harare yesterday, President Mnangagwa said while procurement issues tend to attract corrupt activities in the economy, such malpractices have no space in his Government.

"The Electronic Government Procurement system should therefore minimise human interface and assist in dealing with corruption issues associated with the procurement sector. Interactions in the system will be auditable and verifiable.

"The chicanery and shadowy award of contracts associated with our public tender processes must be put to an end. I, thus, challenge the procurement officials to be men and women of integrity," he said.

"The cases related to irregular payments, poor corporate governance, opaqueness in the award of contracts, favouritism and diversion of funds, among others, will not be condoned."

President Mnangagwa said the theme of this year's conference, "Service Delivery Through Innovative Solutions", is apt given the dynamic, ever-changing and highly digitalised environment people are living in, which makes it necessary to embrace science, technology and innovation in everything.

"This electronic Government Procurement System uses Information and Communication Technologies (ICTs) to enable a more efficient and transparent exchange of information, interactions as well as transactions between Government and suppliers of goods and services.

"Furthermore, it will improve financial accountability and transparency in procurement procedures, bring inclusivity by reaching remote areas, shorten the procurement cycle times as well as develop a common database," he said.

The President said as people's lives become more intertwined digitally, under the fourth industrial revolution, the provision of public services should also follow suit.

"The public sector should speedily implement digital solutions so that the citizenry can access more services online for their convenience.

"It is also my expectation that through the use of the system, previously marginalised institutions such as Micro, Small and Medium Enterprises, women and the youth will begin to play a more significant role in the procurement process, irrespective of their geographical location."

President Mnangagwa said priority must be given to locally available products, services and solutions, in line with the local content strategy and in support of the innovations coming out of the country's Innovation Hubs.

"The spirit and practice of innovation is a fundamental prerequisite to improve service delivery. In the case of Government, it provides scope for enhancing public sector performance and improving service delivery, especially in under-served areas

"Through the use of innovation, technology and new mind-sets on the part of stakeholders, it is my expectation that we will begin to gradually see higher levels of productivity, better outcomes as well as better services," he said.

The President said following the enactment of the Public Procurement and Disposal of Public Assets Act and related Regulations, it was pleasing that the public procurement reforms are having a positive impact on the procurement processes.

"I urge users of the system to ensure that there is a constant electronic trail of procurement data towards facilitating the monitoring, reporting, planning and ‘real-time' decision-making in public procurement.

"Anchored on the ‘Whole of Economy and Society Approach to Development', my Government will ensure a conducive environment for enhancing our country's competitiveness and accelerating socio-economic growth that leaves no one and no place behind," he said.

Businessman Dr Nigel Chanakira said if the system lives up to its billing, it could be a game-changer.

"It makes the whole procurement process in the public sector very transparent and fair. This process will allow more people locally, maybe even regionally and internationally, to be able to see on a public display the prices and the awarding of tenders. That should make it transparent, fair and competitive. I am hopeful, desirous that everything we saw today actually translates to action," he said.

Dr Chanakira said suppliers will now be more confident in participating in the tender process unlike in the past where some were sceptical fearing that the process would be rigged.

"If the system is open, transparent and available to the public then I am keen to participate, to test it. We should eliminate corruption in this business of picking and choosing suppliers," he said.

Buy Zimbabwe General Manager Mr Alois Burutsa said the new procurement system launched by President Mnangagwa is an important arrangement as it will help eradicate corruption.

"As you are aware, public procurement is always associated with corruption and this will greatly reduce that. As Buy Zimbabwe we have also partnered with PRAZ, in what we call the local content rating system whereby Zimbabwean companies by law are supposed to enjoy a 20 percent price advantage over foreign companies.

"What was happening is that organisations that were not manufacturing products here in Zimbabwe were enjoying that 20 percent advantage, but now you come through to Buy Zimbabwe and get a local content rating certificate that will enable you to get that advantage," he said.

Mr Burutsa said they want Zimbabwean products to enjoy a price advantage over foreign products and that way the Government is playing its part in supporting local production and creating jobs.

"The Government is actually the biggest buyer; over 60 percent of all procurement is done at Government level and therefore we need to support local companies through Government procurement so that we create and support local jobs," he said.

Source - The Herald