PARLIAMENT has come under scrutiny, following findings by the Auditor-General showing that goods and services worth over US$350 000 were procured without going to tender, in contravention of the Public Procurement and Finance Act (PPDPA).
Parliament is required by the PPDPA Act to invite bids for the procurement of goods above US$10 000 while quotations have to be sourced for purchases below the threshold.
However, findings by the new Auditor-General’s Appropriation Accounts and Fund Accounts in Arrear report which was tabled before the National Assembly shows that Parliament made procurements amounting to US$359 012 without floating a tender and without sourcing quotations.
“There was also no evidence that the entity (Parliament) appointed an Evaluation Committee to perform independent evaluations of the procurement of goods and services above the US$10 000 threshold. This is contrary to the PPDPA Act [Chapter 22:23],” reads the report.
“Failure to invite interested bidders or to secure or to source three quotations restricts competition such that procurement may not be made to the best advantage of the entity. The absence of an evaluation committee may result in lack of independence in the selection of suppliers.”
This is not the first time Parliament has been involved in dubious tender processes.
In September last year, Parliament found itself in the eye of a storm when leaked official communication revealed that it had awarded Blinart Investments (Private) Limited a tender to supply 173 laptops for a total of US$1 602 755.77, translating to US$9 200 per gadget.
Mid-End Computers and Hardware Ltd was awarded a tender to supply 79 desktops valued at US$3 000 each.
Treasury quickly cancelled the inflated tender and blacklisted the companies involved. In a statement dated 23 September, clerk of Parliament Kennedy Chokuda blamed Parliament staffers for the “corrupt deal”.
The state said Chokuda should have followed section 52 of the Public Procurement Regulatory Authority (Praz) which stipulates the conduct of an accounting officer in a case where the price of the lowest evaluated responsive bidder exceeds the budget.
“The accounting officer, (Chokuda) should have simply cancelled the contract and re-retendered, but he went on to negotiate price reduction showing favour to winning bidders and disfavor to other bidders,” reads the report.
The AG’s new report has also shown that Parliament is failing to account for money disbursed under the Constituency Development Fund (CDF), with over 100 constituencies failing to present proof of payment on utilisation of money allocated by the fund.
“Out of 175 Constituencies which received disbursements amounting to ZW$340 650 474, seventy constituencies did not submit to Parliament of Zimbabwe proof of payments that supported how US$140 000 000 allocated to them was utilised,” reads the report.
“I therefore could not confirm with certainty whether expenditure incurred related to the 70 constituencies. This was contrary to paragraph 6 (d) of the Constituency Development Fund Constitution which provides for submission of acquittals and quarterly reports.”
Parliament’s spending has also been under fire, amid indications that it exceeded the national budget by US$25 305 741, which ballooned to US$1 490 888 789 in 2016 and trebled to US$4 562 064 124 in 2017.
The government overshot the budget by US$3 560 343 130 in 2018.
In 2020, the government brought a Financial Adjustment Bill to Parliament as it sought condonation for the unapproved expenditure between 2015 and 2018 totalling US$9.6 billion.
The Finance ministry has also been failing to furnish the AG with the books, despite numerous requests.
The Public Accounts Committee has also failed to get access to the books despite summoning ministry officials four times between 2020 and 2022, stoking suspicions that there is an attempt to conceal how the money was spent.