New Vision (Kampala)

21 June 2012

Uganda: Experts Blame Politicians Over Tendering Graft

Political interference in procurement processes is one of the major causes of inefficiency in the function, experts from across Africa have said.

"Because of the 'pressure from above', practitioners are forced to deviate from the Public Procurement and Disposal of Public Assets law (PPDA)," Eric Yeboah, the Ghana immigration office procurement officer, noted.

"Most of the time, politicians want to have a say on who gets the tender, even if the contractors are not the best bidder."

He was speaking during a two-week procurement training that brought together experts from across Africa.

The training was conducted by Uganda Management Institute (UMI).

All the participants agreed that political influence was one of the major factors for the increasing procurement corruption in Africa.

Yeboah, however, said the skills learnt from the training would help them stand up to those who want favours and act as the law dictates.

He noted that it has been discovered that politicians do not understand the law. "If they are sensitised, they will learn to appreciate the law with time," he added.

Geoffrey Mungure, a procurement specialist from Tanzania, said the major cause of procurement graft in his country is influence peddling from the top leaders.

"Some practitioners' judgment is clouded by bribes that they do not award the tenders fairly," said Mungure.

He advised procuring entities to resist pressure from politicians and ensure that they do not derail the tendering process.

"Procurement processes should be properly managed by following the law devotedly because it is a sensitive sector and uses the largest percentage of any nation's income," Mungure explained.

Killion Tumwebaze, the Ntoroko district procurement officer, observed that though the PPDA law is clear, many people do not understand it.

"Procurement bodies across the continent should sensitise all stakeholders on what the law demands of them. This will help reduce procurement corruption," said Tumwebaze.

Prossy Oluka, the lead trainer, observed that the laws in Uganda and Tanzania have good policy guidelines and regulations, but fall short on implementation.

She, however, noted that in Ghana, those found guilty of tendering graft are punished severely.

"A lot of awareness about the procurement law has been done in Ghana. Those who violate the law are punished according to the law and without fear or favour.

"This has instilled fear in practitioners and politicians, hence, cementing ethical conduct in the industry," Oluka observed.

Harriet Adakum, the UMI spokesperson, said the Danish Fellowship Centre carried out a survey recently and discovered a skills gap in the procurement sector across Africa.

The training attracted over 15 procurement managers from Ghana, Uganda and Tanzania.

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