THE State Procurement Board has sent its principal officer Mr Cledwyn Nyanhete on indefinite forced leave as investigations into the operations of the board under former chairperson Mr Charles Kuwaza widen. Mr Kuwaza, who was at the helm of the SPB from early 2000, was frozen out of the state procurement agency in November last year after Government resolved not to renew his contract and ordered an audit into the board’s operations.
The Office of the President and Cabinet and external tax consultants are conducting the audit. During Mr Kuwaza’s tenure, the SPB made headlines for wrong reasons bordering on corporate malfeasance.
SPB board chairperson, Ambassador Buzawani Mothobi, who came in with a new board in December last year, confirmed Mr Nyanhete’s suspension last Friday. “We have been carrying out investigations and an audit on the operations of the SPB, so in this instance, we felt those who were in charge of the board’s affairs need to step aside to allow investigations,” Ambassador Mothobi said.
“We want to come to the conclusion of these investigations so it was necessary for us to send him on forced leave so that those doing the investigations and audit can do so without interference,” he said.
Meanwhile the board has appointed an acting principal officer, Mr Samson Mutanhaurwa. In a notice sent to all accounting officers and suppliers last week, Ambassador Mothobi said Mr Mutanhaurwa would be the acting principal officer from April 7.
Mr Cledwyn Nyanhete, shall not conduct any business on behalf of the State Procurement Board from April 7, 2016 until further notice following a board resolution to place him on forced leave to facilitate uninterrupted on-going due diligence on the operations of the board.
“The State Procurement Board shall not be bound by any commitments entered into by Mr Cledwyn Nyanhete on its behalf during this period,” said Amb Mothobi. Sources said the board made a resolution to suspend Mr Nyanhete on April 5.
“Mr Nyanhete was advised that the board felt the audit and investigations were watershed of various human resources and financial management decisions that the board and other stakeholders would make,” said one source.
“So they resolved that he must be sent on forced leave but on full benefits from April 7 until he is called back. They also advised him to surrender all SPB stuff in his possession and barred him from entering the premises without the invitation of the board,” said the source.
Another source said Ambassador Mothobi’s board wanted to start on a clean slate given the irregularities associated with Mr Kuwaza’s tenure. “There were complaints of underhand dealings with companies where SPB officials were suspected to have interests. This is why these investigations are being carried out.
“The media has also been awash with irregularities at the board while courts were clogged with lawsuits from bidders, which paints a bad picture of the state procurement system,” said the source. herald