The Procurement Regulatory Authority of Zimbabwe (PRAZ) said yesterday it was seeking increased powers to enable it to effectively monitor public procurement processes and to also punish entities who flout tender procedures.
PRAZ (formerly the State Procurement Board) was created through an Act of Parliament in 2017 and is mandated with supervising public procurement proceedings to ensure transparency, fairness, honesty, cost-effectiveness and competition.
PRAZ chief executive officer, Nyasha Chizu, told Parliament that emergency procurement needs necessitated by the Covid-19 pandemic had brought to light the need to tighten laws regulating procurement in the country.
He said, for example, when the pandemic reached Zimbabwe, special procurement guidelines it issued were not followed.
Among other special regulations, PRAZ directed that for orderly procurement of Covid-19 consumables, shared procurement arrangements needed to be adopted such that consumables, including sanitisers were bought within the provinces rather than at a central level.
Tenders were to be published and awarded within a reduced time frame and procuring entities were also supposed to provide PRAZ with monthly procurement reports for audit.
“What we observed was that, initially, with respect to Covid-19, the Ministry (of Health) was conducting procurements on their own, they did those procurements and what we noticed is that the procurements were being done at a central level, whereas our directive was that procurement was supposed to be done at provincial levels,” he said.
“Regarding the circular that we issued on 27 March, there was some bit of non-compliance on the part of procuring entities because from 27 of March to end of April we were supposed to get first reports of what was procured, but nothing was done and we also observed that in terms of the laws we were a bit toothless in terms of implementation of our directives.”
Mr Chizu said, currently, PRAZ was limited in its operations and was not directly involved in procurement.
“According to the Act, procurement decisions are supposed to be done by the procuring entity’s accounting officer,” he said.
“So in that regard it is very clear as to what level is PRAZ supposed to be involved because the functions of PRAZ are mainly to set standards, monitor and evaluate public procurement decisions. So yes we did set the standard in terms of Covid-19 (procurement). What we expected to be done, we did set that standard and now what we are doing is to monitor and evaluate how that standard would have been applied.”
He added: “We have received some reports so far on these procurements. We are going to be reviewing all these procurement processes because our job is no longer to award (tenders) but to review a process and take corrective action.
“So to that effect we also have done something, we have developed compliance monitoring and evaluation regulations that have got some penalties for someone who would not have complied to directives. Yes, it is a fact that right now we are only writing letters to request for reports so that we can review them, but as to specific action that we can do if someone does not comply right now we do not have until our regulations have been published. They are now with the Attorney-General,” he said. – New Ziana