Wednesday, 17 November 2021

TENDER CHEATS TO BE BLACKLISTED

The Zimbabwe Anti-Corruption Commission (ZACC) is looking at blacklisting tender cheats despite improvements in the processes that have seen all suppliers having to be vetted before they are allowed to bid on tenders.

Some suppliers fail to deliver goods and services to public entities after winning a tender and being paid.

ZACC’s new thrust is to stop these businesses ever getting another public-sector tender

In terms of the current law, a company can only be barred from participating in tenders because of insolvency.

However, ZACC has noted with concern that the same fraudsters continue committing further offences in the public sector.

In an interview, Commissioner Thandiwe Mlobane, who is responsible for compliance and systems at ZACC, said efforts were being made to at least lobby for a statutory instrument barring known unscrupulous suppliers from getting more tenders and if all goes well, such tainted firms should be barred from next year.

“As ZACC, we are going after those unscrupulous suppliers who failed to deliver despite receiving payment. There are a number of such companies that have ripped off not only one parastatal, but many.

“We know these companies and we are compiling a list to ensure they are barred from participating in future tenders. If it means lobbying for a statutory instrument empowering us to effect the ban, we will do so,” she said.

Procurement rules, according to ZACC, were flouted the most during the Covid-19 period where sometimes short-cuts were taken in the name of responding to an emergency.

The procurement rules were not followed at the height of the Covid-19 pandemic and a number of suppliers were implicated in the scandals.

“Some have been arrested over tender scandals, but some cases are still being investigated,” said Comm Mlobane.

Meanwhile, ZACC has introduced integrity committees to fight corruption at institutional level.

At least 26 parastatals or companies where the State has a significant shareholding were selected to participate in a pilot project in which the entities are expected to set up integrity committees and submit the names to ZACC ahead of a mass swearing in ceremony by year end.

The committees will, among others, promote due diligence in the tender processes to curb corruption and unethical conduct.

The selected companies and other entities include: Zimbabwe Newspapers, ZimParks, CMED Private Limited, Printflow, Rural Electrification Agency (REA), TelOne, Allied Timbers, National

 Oil Infrastructure Company (NOIC), Tobacco Industry Marketing Board (TIMB), ZESA Holdings, Zimbabwe National Water Authority (Zinwa), Zimbabwe Broadcasting Corporation (ZBC), Zimbabwe National Roads Administration (Zinara), Zimbabwe Schools Examinations Council (Zimsec), Health Services Board (HSB), Zimbabwe United Passenger Company (Zupco), Environmental Management Agency (EMA), Zimbabwe Council for Higher Education (ZIMCHE), Agricultural Rural Development Authority (ARDA), National Pharmaceutical Company of Zimbabwe (NATPHARM), Agricultural Marketing Authority (AMA), Civil Aviation Authority of Zimbabwe (CAAZ), Grain Marketing Board and the National Social Security Authority (NSSA).

Comm Mlobane said Printflow was the first to set up a five-member committee a fortnight ago, followed by Zinwa which established an 11-member committee this week.

More parastatals and companies with significant State ownership now await approval from their boards to establish the committees and send the lists to the anti-graft body.

The establishment of integrity committees has been identified as one of the most effective ways to facilitate stakeholder participation in the anti-corruption drive.

Zambia, Tanzania and Namibia have successfully introduced integrity committees which are producing positive results in the anti-graft fight. Treasury is offering financial support for the programme.

According to ZACC, the number of public institutions participating in the project is expected to rise to 250 by the end of next year. Herald

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