Government has assured small companies of fair treatment during tendering processes as it tightens screws around procurement of items required in the fight against Covid-19.
Recently, Cabinet agreed that only “reputable and established companies” will be contracted to supply Covid-19 materials but small genuine companies are still eligible since the ban is for briefcase companies without premises and without a track record.
In an interview, Women Affairs, Community, Small and Medium Enterprises Development Minister Sithembiso Nyoni, said all companies that meet the criteria will have equal opportunities to secure tenders.
“We should not conflate briefcase companies with small to medium enterprises. Some of these dodgy companies are purporting to be large organisations,” Minister Nyoni said.
She said there are basics that all suppliers, including small companies, need to satisfy for them to be eligible for the Covid-19 tendering process.
“A company needs to have a traceable track record. It should be of fixed abode with locatable infrastructure and compliant with laws of the country.
“There will be thorough investigations, follow ups and companies have to demonstrate capacity before they get a tender,” said Minister Nyoni.
She said the SMEs Act states that a quarter of any national procurement should go to small businesses and also applies to Covid-19 tenders. Government promised to carefully sift through tender applications to separate wheat from chaff.
The Procurement Regulatory Authority of Zimbabwe, which manages Government buying processes said there are laid down criteria meant to smoke out fraudulent entities. Responding to written questions, PRAZ CEO Nyasha Chizu said all companies regardless of size, must pass the integrity test.
“Although section 4 of the Act requires that bidders are treated in a transparent, fair and honest manner, and that procurement processes promote competition among bidders, all procurement must achieve value for money and the processes must pass the test of integrity,” Chizu said.
He said there is a legal requirement meant to ensure that firms with a traceable track record win tenders. Government accounting officers have to develop a standard bidding document that demands that bidders meet specified ethical standards associated with the procurement.
“A requirement of membership of the Pharmaceutical Council of Zimbabwe for supply of medicines would suffice in this instance.”
In March, The Herald reported that public procurement regulations have been relaxed to allow expeditious purchases of basics central to the country’s Covid-19 fight. Procurement of Covid-19 related materials was transferred to the Ministry of Health and Child Care since fighting the pandemic is directly under their purview.