Company behind Parliament laptop scandal justifies USD$9200 pricing
Blinart Investments, the company that was blacklisted after trying to dupe the Parliament of Zimbabwe of US$1,602,755. 77 in a deal to supply laptops at USD$9200 each has denied any wrongdoing.
Treasury last week, through Secretary for Finance and Economic Development, George Guvamatanga, released a damning report saying it had rejected a tender awarded to Blinart Investments P/L by Parliament for the supply of 173 laptops priced at US$9264.48 each, translating to US$1,602,755.77. The company had exorbitantly inflated prices.
The document caused public outcry as Zimbabweans began to ask how the staffers at the National Assembly allowed the tender to sail through.
In an interview with Nehanda Radio, Blinart Investments representative Elizabeth Muchenje denied any wrongdoing saying they were not going to supply laptops only. She added that they did not even sign the contract.
“Those are lies. We were not only going to supply laptops only, there are other accessories of the laptops that were left out on that document. I am sorry I am driving and I am not supposed to be talking to you but go to Parliament and find out what was quoted there,” she said.
“The gadgets in question are Spectra laptops, they are not just ordinary but high-end laptops with so many accessories that make them reach that amount. Actually, that is not the actual amount because there is also value added tax (VAT).
“Yes we were awarded but we did not sign the contract. I am sorry I can’t talk further because I am driving.”
Another dubious company, Mid-End Computers and Hardware, believed to be owned by one Saul Nyakudya, was also awarded a tender to supply 79 desktop computers at US$3 076.61 amounting to US$243 052,36.
Clerk of Parliament Kennedy Chokuda has since issued a statement stating that he ordered the cancellation of the awarded tenders but it however remains unclear how the documents reached treasury which immediately acted and further blacklisted the two companies.
“The Parliament of Zimbabwe notes with concern the circulation of official documents on social media regarding the procurement of ICT equipment for the institution. This statement is therefore issued in the public interest to set the record straight on the matter,” he said.
“It is during these processes that two companies were cleared as meeting the set criteria including the lowest price submissions payable in local currency,” Chokuda said.
“However, while all the procurement processes had been adhered to and cognisant of the need to exercise prudence and probity in all procurement processes, our due diligence processes indicated that the prices quoted were highly inflated.
“It is at this particular point that on Friday 9th August 2022, I, as the Accounting Officer, directed the Parliament’s Director Procurement Unit, in the presence of Director Audit, to initiate cancellation of the tender and to proceed with the retendering as the quoted prices were not justified.
“It is in that regard, that no contract has been signed with any of the two suppliers, and no payment processes have been activated in respect of the two suppliers.
“As an institution of Parliament, we continually review our procurement processes and procedures and this incident provides an opportunity for us to reflect on our processes to make them more tight and robustly transparent,” he said.