PARLIAMENT officials were yesterday quizzed by the Public Accounts Committee on the now cancelled tender for the supply of laptops and desktop computers that had been awarded to two companies at inflated prices.
Clerk of Parliament Mr Kennedy Chokuda and other senior officials from the institution appeared before the PAC where they admitted that the prices quoted by the companies were exorbitant.
The tender had been awarded to Blinart Investments P/L, which wanted to supply 79 desktop computers and Mid-End Computers and Hardware that wanted to supply 173 laptops.
Laptops were each valued at US$9 264,48 while desktop computers were each valued at US$3 076,61 and the Government has since blacklisted the companies for overcharging.
Responding to questions by the Committee’s chairman, Mr Brian Dube, Mr Chokuda said he rejected the prices charged by the companies.
“If you go to the statement I issued on the 17th of September, we were very clear, Honourable Chair, that after doing our due diligence, which we do and on the 9th of September, I directed that we couldn’t proceed with the procurement because of the prices.
“I said a laptop with the specifications that I know could be roughly between US$3 500 and US$5 000 and that there was no way as Clerk of Parliament I could buy a laptop at that price,” he said.
Parliament’s director of ICT, Ms Theresa Kamvura, said she had also raised similar concerns on the prices when she met with the chief director for finance, Mr Bernard Zvamada.
“I advised the chief director when he called me to his office; I said this price is too much because we were looking at the laptops at a price range of US$3 500 and US$4 500 with the accessories, so I said this was beyond what we could pay for and for desktops we said it could not go beyond US$1 000,” she said.
Mr Chokuda was then asked why he had written to the companies on August 29, congratulating them for winning the tender to which he replied that it was his responsibility to notify bidders of the outcome of the bidding process.
“The letter of the 29th of August was to communicate the outcome of the tender process which I did. Secondly, I think I performed my duties as Clerk of Parliament to the fullest of my abilities. When I noticed the prices and I was not happy with them, I duly asked that the tender be cancelled and be re-tendered,” he said adding that he could prove his assertions.
Mr Chokuda also denied that Parliament had approached Treasury for funding to pay the contractors.
He added that it was the first time the companies had won tenders from Parliament.
Mr Chokuda informed the companies that took part in the bidding process of the cancellation of the contract.