18 June 2019

Zimbabwe: Merits of Public Procurement, Disposal of Public Assets Act

The promulgation of the new Public Procurement and Disposal of Public Assets Act has been greeted with a lot of optimism in the public sector and the supply chain management fraternity.

In the past, procurement inefficiencies were easily blamed on the repealed public procurement Act's failure to provide a guiding framework that promotes value for money transactions.

The new Act does not only place emphasis on transparency and accountability, but also advocates for competitiveness and value for money initiatives.

Essentially, the Act has removed the shackles that limited the practice of supply chain management in the public sector and provides a platform where procurement management units can unleash their potential. Fundamentally, the new Act points to a paradigm shift in addressing the rampant corruption conundrum.

Corrupt flouting of tender procedures had reached alarming levels and the repealed public procurement Act was clearly outdated to deal with this phenomenon. The corrupt imposition of incompetent suppliers by some influential political figures resulted in financial bleeding of Government coffers and consequently affecting provision of effective service delivery to the public.

The new Public Procurement and Disposal of Public Asset Act, however, provides a plausible framework that can reduce incidents of wanton violation of procurement procedures especially by influential political figures.

Section 16 subsections (1) to (3) of the Act empower Accounting Officers and procurement management units to resist external machinations from politicians to subvert the dictates of the Act.

Section 16 of the Act demands that Accounting Officers and procurement officers object to sanction transactions that violate the Act in writing and that, such objections be communicated to the Auditor-General, Minister of Finance, Accountant-General and the Secretary to Cabinet. The provision aims at exposing the real perpetrators of corruption and places on record transactions that are potentially tainted. In the past, refusal to bow to political pressure to award tenders to undeserving contractors resulted in victimisation of procurement professionals, something the new Act effectively addresses.

His Excellency President Mnangagwa has been unequivocal on the subject of corruption. It is refreshing to see serious commitment to tackling the corruption scourge coming from the highest office of this country. This has brought about a lot of hope that finally business will be conducted in an environment which recognises fairness without prejudice.

Another important positive coming from the Act is that of shared procurement among procuring entities.

Section 19 of the Act encourages collaborations among procuring entities to pursue the benefits of order consolidation.

Substantial benefits are realised where common requirements of procuring entities are brought together as this results in leveraged bargaining power which drives costs down.

Fundamentally, procuring entities are also free to engage other specialised Government departments to procure on their behalf technical works, products or services. Such arrangements eliminate costly procurement of substandard goods by procuring entities.

Lastly, the new Act promises to liberate the practice of supply chain management in the public sector. The new Act offers much more in terms of devising procurement strategies that achieves competitiveness and value for money at the procuring entity level.

In order to achieve competitiveness and value for money, the Act makes it mandatory that all practitioners must be properly qualified.

With all these positives, expectations have also sky-rocketed as the country has long yearned for tangible quality products and service delivery for the public.

Bongani E. Mushanyuri (PhD) is a Supply Chain management Specialist with the Bindura University of Science Education.

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