Failure to comply with procurement regulations in the public sector is creating room for corruption and undermining the country’s development, Vice President Dr Constantino Chiwenga has said.
Addressing the Procurement Regulatory Authority of Zimbabwe (PRAZ)’s inaugural annual conference here on Friday, VP Chiwenga said an audit of national projects undertaken by his office concluded that procurement rules were being ignored.
“As Government, we are concerned about the low levels of compliance by procuring entities with the procurement law as reported by PRAZ,” he said.
“Three years after implementation of procurement reforms began, compliance levels are still far from where we want them to be.
“We are now past our two-year transitional period, during which we expected all procuring entities to acquaint themselves fully with the procurement law and for practitioners to self-develop by acquiring professional qualifications.
“We were, therefore, expecting 100 percent compliance by this time and nothing less.”
The VP said procurement during times of crisis such as the Covid-19 pandemic creates windows for unethical and illegal practices. “This is because the highest risk of corruption for the Government lies in public procurement.
“Indeed, crises and emergencies create a good unjust enrichment opportunity to those with a high propensity for corruption.
“Thus, even in the wake of an emergency, the men and women in Government ministries, departments and agencies as well as suppliers in the private sector, should commit and practise the highest standards of transparency, honesty and ethical behaviour in their dealings in public procurement.”
VP Chiwenga said PRAZ and law enforcement agencies will collaborate to reduce incidents of graft in the public sector.
“In response, the Zimbabwe Government, through various agencies including PRAZ and the Zimbabwe Anti-Corruption Commission (ZACC), developed several initiatives to uproot the scourge of corruption in public procurement from among us as a nation.”
PRAZ board chairperson Mrs Vimbai Nyemba said the low levels of compliance was caused by delays in sensitising officials about the Public Procurement and Disposal of Public Assets Act.
“The high levels of complacency are not very alarming. You know when people are changing, change is very difficult.
“When you move from one thing to the other, there is always resistance, but now l think most of the entities are amenable to change.”
– The Sunday Mail