By Shingirai Vambe
The Procurement Regulatory Authority of Zimbabwe (PRAZ) has confirmed the US$9200 laptop tender which was rejected by the Ministry of Finance and later canceled by Parliament flouted procurement regulations.
The PRAZ Chief Executive Officer, Clever Ruswa told Parliament last week on Monday, that the whole process was wrong starting with officers of Parliament who requested the high end laptops and accessories and desktopscosting US$9200 and US$3500.
Ruswa said he was not sure what exactly parliament wanted touse such types of machines that had inflated prices for.
“This is where we ask people to adhere to the regulations, it’s very clear that you don’t specify a brand to avoid disadvantaging other business players and the specification must zero in on functionalities.
“The Public Procurement Acts is very clear, that is why we are pushing for its standardization, it focuses on the functionality of a product that you want to buy, specifying these brands as Parliament did, we are using public funds and we don’t want these fancy things,” he said.
“Parliament is such a big institution and we don’t expectthat to happen. Internally they must also look at this, it’s easy to point to the accounting officer, but if the support staff is not playing ball, we continue having this, …the ICT director, what is your involvement,” asked Ruswa.
He added that suppliers were buying computers and accessories from Dubai that failed to meet set standards.
“It goes beyond acquisition even at receipt. Very soon onceour regulations are out, in terms of the M and E regulations, because people are taking advantage of section 94, we will be looking at these administrative issues which we want to correct. We will go for each and every individual, “said Ruswa.
The PRAZ boss said the regulator would plug the loopholes being used by people in Government and higher offices. In his submission, Ruswa blamed a PRAZ employee, who was four months into the job, for contributing to the mess, and said disciplinarymeasures had since been taken against the said staffer.
Blinart Investments, who had won the tenders also appeared before the Committee. Elizabeth Muchenje, its managing director, said she wanted to bring the laptops from Dubai in 3 batches and on her invoice she had added 3 trips by air and hotel and other expenses which added up to US US$9200.
She also said the accessories that Parliament had requested went up to US $1500, charging MS word, US $390, Anti-Virus, US $300, and Windows US$300.
She however failed to respond to some of the questions saying she was going tomake some inquiries with her partners and then submit the responses to Parliament.
She denied that a picture that had gone viral in social media was one of her company’s offices.
Mid-End Managing director, Saul Sakudya, who had won the tender to supply 79 desktops said he was also getting his supplies from Dubai and the US$3500 cost of a desktop computer was justifiable, considering the process and payment needed for the goods to be received in Zimbabwe.
All hell broke loose when the whistle blower, Ari Goldstein appeared before the same committee and told members that he was the one who informed the Zimbabwe Anti-Corruption Commission (ZACC) and the Permanent Secretary of theMinistry of Finance, George Guvamatanga, after he failed to win the tender.
“From my background of computer engineering, there is no standard computer even that with high standards and custom made requests that would cost such a price. This was a corrupt deal between Parliament and the suppliers,”said Ari.
He added that for accessories, his prices were US$513.61, and his markup was 6.3% and the cost of the laptop was US$2019.29 coming to a total of US$3395 including transport and accessories.
“Desktops were at US$1190.90 additional costs of US$426 and transport and other expenses including our markup, the total cost was US$2124 for each desktop”.
“We received a letter, signed by the clerk of Parliament, Kennedy Chokuda, notifying us that we had lost the tender, we then wrote a letter to the clerk on September 8, 2022, challenging the outcome, taking cognizance of those who had been awarded the tender”.
“Stanely Bhebhe, Director Procurement from Parliament called us. He did not respond to the letter but called us, and in his words, said, I’m experienced and I have been inprocurement more years than your wife has been wearing a bra,” added Ari.
Parliament also invited Noreen Mudekwa from Century Technology who also lost the tender. She said she has dealt with government before and currently supplying other government departments with computers and accessories.