Felex Share Herald Reporter
A major transformation is looming at the State Procurement Board and developments will be visible to the public in the next few months, Chief Secretary to the President and Cabinet Dr Misheck Sibanda said yesterday.
This comes as the term of office for the chairperson and board members of the State Procurement Board has expired with business leaders and corporate governance experts calling for the complete overhaul of the country’s sole procurement body.
Most board members have been with the SPB since 2002.
It has also emerged that SPB chairperson Mr Charles Kuwaza inexplicably continues to hide five brand new top-of-the-range Government vehicles bought three years ago.
The all-terrain Toyota Hilux double cab vehicles, all valued at $210 000, were earmarked for SPB staff members but are being shifted from one hideout to another.
The vehicles spent the better part of last year parked at a five-star Harare hotel before being taken to a car park in the central business district where they are gathering dust and paying parking fees monthly.
Dr Sibanda yesterday said Government was working on transforming the SPB.
“As for their contracts, you can check with them directly because we only administer the Act but we are working to transform the SPB and if you look into the programme in the next months you will see the great transformation. We are moving forward and reforming them,” he said.
SPB principal officer Mr Cledwyn Nyanhete yesterday referred questions to Mr Kuwaza.
Mr Kuwaza referred questions to the Office of the President and Cabinet.
“Your questions should be directed to the Office of Chief Secretary to the President and Cabinet which is responsible for the administration of the Act,” he said.
The board’s term of office expired on September 30 last year and had not been extended.
The SPB board comprises Mr Kuwaza, his deputy Ms Florence Ziumbe, Ambassador Buzwani Mothobi, Mr Tinaye Chigudu, Mr Steven Chifunyise, Mr William Kurebgaseka and Mr Simon Pazvakavambwa.
The source said the seven-member board had failed to publish their accounts during its tenure.
Harare lawyer Mr Terrence Hussein said it was legally impossible for the board to continue holding meetings.
“Under normal circumstances, if you continue it means the action you take will be null and avoid. Terms of office are renewed as soon as they expire and their status should be clarified.”
A cooperate governance expert, Mr Canaan Dube said decisions made by a board whose term of office has expired “do not carry the force of the law”.
“Procurement is a risky area and the entity cannot have an executive chairman in perpetuity,” he said.
“He is the founder chairman and if good corporate governance is to be followed one cannot chair a board for more than two terms. The latest adverse report has shown that there are serious problems at the SPB which needed remedial action but nothing has been done.”
The latest adverse audit report from the office of the Comptroller and Auditor-General showed that all SPB workers do not have employment contracts, a situation legal experts said was a violation of the Labour Act and a “landmine” for labour disputes.
The workers do not know whether they are casual or permanent workers or if they have fixed term contracts.
The report acknowledged that the SPB was operating in “the absence of a human resource policy adding that there was no policy document to guide the SPB when issuing staff loans, a situation that could see loans being given to undeserving cases.
Commenting on the cars, another source said: “These vehicles were bought for four procurement executives and the director for finance, administration and human resources but they have not yet benefited from the cars.
“We are surprised at why he does not want to give the beneficiaries their cars because they were not bought using his money. No one is using them and they continue to pay parking fees every month.”
Experts said the expiry of the terms of offices for the board members was an opportunity for Government to clean up blemishes in the tender processes.
Zimbabwe Centre for Business Opportunities president Mr Paddington Japajapa said there was need for “new brooms’’ at the tender board.
“These guys should just leave office. We need new brooms and the allegations of underhand dealings against them means they are no longer fit for that office,” he said.
“We need people who hold tenders in a transparent manner not with favouritism as has been the case. Only a few companies with the right connections continue to win tenders and this should come to an end if Zim-Asset targets are to be realised.”