Fungi Kwaramba Political Editor
PRESIDENT Mnangagwa has directed stakeholders in the public procurement cycle to implement measures such as quotas that will ensure the inclusion of youths, women, and SMEs so that they also grab vast opportunities that have been availed by the Second Republic in public entities across all sectors of the economy.
This comes as his administration has taken a revolutionary decision to transform the country through the awarding of procurement contracts and tenders to local enterprises, who have in turn become game-changers at the forefront of the rapid infrastructural development that is taking place across the country.
Through President Mnangagwa’s awarding of tenders for mega-projects to local companies, the modernisation and industrialisation that is part of the National Development Strategy 1 is taking place at a breathtakingly fast pace nationwide, creating employment and wealth for locals.
Officially opening the inaugural Public Procurement Conference and Awards Ceremony, which was hosted by Buy Zimbabwe Trust in Harare yesterday, President Mnangagwa said public procurement is a vital cog to transformational development and should be used to lift ordinary people from poverty to prosperity.
Presently, the President said, there is a worryingly low representation of women, youths, and SMEs in the hugely lucrative public procurement chains and his administration is taking giant steps to ameliorate the status quo.
“In the spirit of leaving no one and no place behind, my Government is committed to the promotion of inclusive public procurement to help Zimbabweans start, build and grow viable businesses. However, it is most unfortunate that, to date, women, youth entrepreneurs, and the disabled face disproportionately complex and interconnected barriers to accessing equal opportunities in public procurement.
“We must as stakeholders, tap into public procurement for women and youth empowerment to unleash the full potential of these important demographics.
“This will also go a long way towards providing a springboard for the advancements, economic inclusion and participation of women and youths in the mainstream economy. I, therefore, urge stakeholders in the public procurement cycle to implement responsive strategies to curb the legal and regulatory hurdles, socio-cultural biases and lack of skills, networks and financing, which limit the involvement of women and youths in public procurement.
“Additionally, the public procurement system must be accessible to SMEs through responsive procurement policies such as the use of quotas for suppliers. It is also critically important to close the information gap and build capacities through training on certification, registration and equipping suppliers with management tools, among other aspects. This will help broaden those who can participate in public procurement,” he said.
The Procurement Regulatory Authority of Zimbabwe (PRAZ), the President added, must therefore refine the procurement policy and procedures to attract and ensure long-term commitment by investors, all the while playing a catalytic role in the broader national development agenda.
Under President Mnangagwa, rhe Government has taken deliberate steps to buy local, increase local content and also increase the number of players across economic value chains—something that has led to an increase by 80 percent of local goods on shop shelves.
“To consolidate this trend, my Government remains committed to fostering an enabling business environment and availing the requisite support to increase capacity utilisation in our country’s manufacturing sector.
“Similarly, research and development as well as the registration of patents, support for innovation and inventions are being scaled up in a bid to have more locally made goods and services. The Second Republic is thus determined to support an entrepreneurial and innovative culture that will see our own young people answer the day-to-day needs of our country’s fast-evolving and modernising socio-economic landscape”.
Walking the talk, President Mnangagwa has since established industrial hubs and innovation hubs where students at the country’s institutions of higher learning are taking the lead in coming up with inventions and proffering solutions to national needs.
However, the President cautioned against corruption, saying public procurement must be deployed responsibly, transparently and in the national interest, not only as an empowerment vehicle but most importantly to accelerate sustainable national development.
“It is against this background that all public procurement entities are exhorted to utilise public resources in the most efficient, transparent, accountable, responsive and ethical manner. In this regard, I congratulate local contractors for the sterling and professional work being undertaken in the construction and rehabilitation of our highways and roads”.
Giving the example of the Harare-Beitbridge road, which he recently used, that is being rehabilitated by local companies, President Mnangagwa said it is gratifying to note that Zimbabwean companies are up to the task, and espouse the philosophy “Nyika inovakwa nevene vayo”, in development that leaves no one and no place behind.
“We must unapologetically continue to grow our own food, invent and manufacture the products we use, and build our own dams, factories, health and education infrastructure. Zimbabweans can do it. Nothing is impossible”.
The President, who was accompanied by Defence and War Veterans Minister Oppah Muchinguri, Acting Minister of Industry and Commerce Soda Jemu and other top Government officials, said the conference, where several companies, including Zimpapers, were honoured, is timely as it dovetails with his Government policy of realising sustainable development and inclusive economic growth for the people.
And against a background of global shocks, the Covid-19 pandemic, and climate change, President Mnangagwa said Zimbabwe has to scale up its internal capacities to build back better and advance its interests towards becoming an upper-middle-class economy by 2030.