Zvamaida Murwira: Senior Reporter
Government has gazetted the Public Procurement and Disposal of Public Assets Bill that seeks to abolish the State Procurement Board and constitute the Procurement Regulatory Authority of Zimbabwe to oversee and regulate procurement activities among State enterprises. Gazetting of the Bill is expected to enhance transparency following allegations of rampant corruption and red tape at the SPB.The Bill seeks to repeal the Procurement Act and abolish the SPB from conducting procurement proceedings for Government ministries, statutory bodies and local authorities.
“The Bill will also set out the procedures to be followed and the steps to be taken in procurement proceedings to ensure fairness, transparency and honesty,” read the preamble of the Bill.
Clause One of the Bill will give the President power to fix the date on which it comes into operation and this will allow time for regulations and administrative arrangements to be put in place to ensure its effectiveness.
Clause 3 of the Bill provides that the Bill, when it comes into legal effect, would not override Zimbabwe’s obligations under international treaties that were binding. The functions of the Procurement Regulatory Authority of Zimbabwe as set out in Clause 6, are to supervise public procurement proceedings to ensure transparency, fairness honesty, cost effectiveness and competition.
“Ancillary functions include advising and assisting procuring entities, issuing directives and guidelines, maintaining databases on procurement and registering bidders and contractors,” reads Clause 6.
Clause 7 confers powers to the authority to issue directives to procurement entities, order them to provide information about their procurement proceedings among other issues, to ensure compliance with the law. The authority will consist of between seven and nine members appointed by the responsible minister after consultation with the President.
“Members will be appointed for their skill and experience in fields relating to procurement, and the board will have a number of men and women and fair regional representation,” read Clause 8 of the Bill.
Clause 11 of the Bill oblige the authority to report annually to Parliament on its activities and functions of the public procurement system.
Board members, employees and agents would be exempted from any liability unless their conduct was negligent or malicious or in breach of a contract.
Clause 16 is directed at trying to prevent accounting officers and other officials of procuring entities from complying with illegal instructions given to them by their superiors like ministers and deputy ministers or other persons in that they should put their directives in writing.
“If they think an instruction is illegal, they will have to tell the person who gave them the instruction in writing why they think it is illegal, if despite this the person orders them to comply with it they have to do so, but will report the matter to the minister and the Auditor-General and in certain cases to the Chief Secretary to the President and Cabinet,” reads Clause 16 of the Bill.