Jail term for flouting tender process

Jail term for flouting tender process
Published: 30 January 2018
Accounting officers in Government departments now face jail if they flout laid down procurement procedures while ministers, permanent secretaries and board members who interfere with tender procedures will also be prosecuted, as President Mnangagwa's anti-corruption drive gathers momentum. Where there is interference from a higher office principally Cabinet Ministers, accounting officers are now empowered to lodge an objection with the Chief Secretary to the President and Cabinet.

These are part of sweeping measures brought into the public procurement system by the Public Procurement and Disposal of Public Assets Act (PPDPA), which repealed the Procurement Act. The new Act saw the disbandment of the State Procurement Board (SPB) whose integrity had been tainted by scandals. The Procurement Regulatory Authority of Zimbabwe (PRAZ) replaced the SPB.

The new authority will only play a supervisory role in public procurement with the awarding of tenders now being done by accounting officers in various State departments and companies. PRAZ acting chief executive Mr Nyasha Chizu yesterday said heads of public entities should comply with the law as stiffer penalties were now in place.

The penalties, he said, were outlined in Statutory Instrument 5 of 2018. Mr Chizu said accounting officers should not be coerced into violating tender procedures and should request written directives from those wanting to interfere with procurement processes. "The law recognises that other individuals with authority over heads of parastatals and ministries may influence procurement decisions in violation of the laws," he said.

"Ministers or board members in the case of head of state enterprises may direct accounting officers to do or to omit something in respect of procurement which the accounting officers are authorised to do in terms of the Act.

"In such cases, the accounting officer ought to write to the authorities concerned highlighting the provisions of the law. The Minister or authority's directive should be in writing also and if he or she refuses to put the instruction in writing, the accounting officer should not comply notwithstanding any terms or conditions of employment. He shall not be liable to any penalty for such non-compliance."

Mr Chizu added: "In terms of section 16(2) of the new ACT, if the accounting officer objects and the Minister insists through written communication, he or she may freely implement the directive and communicate to the line minister in the case of directives from board members, auditor general and accountant general in the case of ministries. Where the instructions are given by the Minister, the accounting officers should report to the Chief Secretary to the President and Cabinet."

Mr Chizu said conducting public procurement without written permission issued by PRAZ is also violation of the set regulations. "If the violation is induced by a corporate entity, the offence is liable to a fine not exceeding level 14 and in case of individuals, it's a fine not exceeding level 10 or imprisonment for a period not exceeding 6 months or both," he said.

"Unlawful disclosure of information relating to the content of any pre-qualification or bid or examination, clarification, evaluation or comparison of bids shall be liable to a fine not exceeding level 14 or imprisonment of a period not exceeding 6 months. Awarding contracts that are subject to prior review in terms of section 54 and without complying with the requirements for prior review is also level 14 fine and 6 months imprisonment. Processing procurement not specified in a procurement plan in violation of section 22 and 23 of the Act for corporate bodies — level 14 fine, and individuals level 10 fine or 6 months imprisonment or both."

PRAZ's responsibility includes advising Government, setting standards and guidelines, training and professional development. It will also refer contraventions of the law to enforcement agencies such as the police.
- the herald
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