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Govt admits being duped by suppliers, seeks to amend procurement laws

President Emmerson Mnangagwa’s administration has admitted it is being duped of several goods and services by suppliers, hence it is proposing the amendment of procurement laws.

This was revealed by Permanent Secretary in the Ministry of Finance George Guvamatanga during his appearance before the Public Accounts Committee (PAC) on Monday.

He said authorities had resolved to suspend advance payments to other services providers such as computers and their accessories, cars, toners adding that government ministries and departments had been duped in the value of money.

“At this rate, one would ask for an advance payment of at least 30%. If that person goes to the auction and gets money, the advance payment given to the supplier covers all its costs meaning any other remaining balance is now profit and that is the money will easily be taken to the parallel market,” Guvamatanga said.

“So over and above issues that were arising from these service providers and contractors demanding advance payment and creating problems of non delivery. We as the ministry looked at the issue and curtailed use of advance payment to service providers.”

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He, however, stated suspension of advance payments policy would be selectively applied to allow big projects to roll on.

“If we completely do away with advance payment law for now we will not be able to construct dams, roads and bridges, we can longer do the PHDs because in legal terms the contractors qualify as preliminaries and generals.

“We have stopped doing advance payment for other service providers such as computers and their accessories, cars, toners. Most of the supplies do not do due diligence.

“We are now trying to be more efficient and effective in our procurement processes. We are, however, considering further mechanisms to protect public finances. Consultations on this are ongoing so that the law is amended. We cannot allow advance payment for anything, even things like a razor blade,” he added.

In her latest report, Auditor General Mildred Chiri recently revealed that about 32 vehicles that were purchased using public funds by three (3) ministries in 2020 and had not been delivered by September 2021.

She castigated the shambolic procurement system, warning there is a risk of theft and unnecessary wastage of public resources.

Guvamatanga’s sentiments come at a time when the government is in the eye of a storm over the ongoing procurement of fire tenders for all councils.

Local Government Minister July Moyo recently wrote to local authorities indicating that the government would divert part of the devolution funds, US$55 million, to buying fire trucks from Belarus for 89 councils.

Government signed the deal with Mnangagwa’s Belarusian crony Alexander Zingman, who runs Aftrade DMCC without consulting local authorities and going to tender.

The whole arrangement raises suspicions of corruption and irregularities because the fire tenders’ price is allegedly inflated, costing US$464 296 each, translating to US$55 million for 89 local authorities specified.