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George Guvamatanga, Zimbabwe's Secretary for Finance


Shocking corruption levels in govt



PRESIDENT Emmerson Mnangagwa says corruption within government circles has reached alarming levels as some senior officials now deliberately deflate tyres of their new official vehicles, park them and use pool cars so that they buy them at book value while in good shape.


 He made the remarks in Harare on Thursday during the Procurement Regulatory Authority of Zimbabwe (Praz) annual conference attended by procurement officers from government departments and other participants from Botswana and Mauritius.

“My senior officers given government vehicles, park them and deflate tyres, and use the pool car to wait for time (three to five years) to expire so that they can acquire the vehicle quite new. If the workers discover that the boss’ car is deflated, they go and repair the wheel, and the boss silently defaces another. Meanwhile, he uses a pool car because he knows at the end of three, four, five years, he will get the car in excellent condition but at book value,” said Mnangagwa.

 Earlier, Finance ministry permanent secretary George Guvamatanga had also said the procurement officers in some instances climb down from prices of goods when dealing with suppliers from as high as US$120 000 to just US$51 000, making one wonder how that could have happened.

He also revealed that ever since the Finance ministry adopted a value-for-money programme that scrutinises government contracts and suppliers, a lot of corrupt deals had been identified. “If you come into government, you will find 27 different types of laptops, 13 types of desktops and 71 types of printers; that does not give you value for money . . .” he said.

Guvamatanga also said public procurement officers in different departments were cashing in on vehicle service facilities.

 “You will see that the same service of a single type of vehicle will be charged US$300, US$700 and US$800. The same Toyota car but from different departments. This is what we are trying to correct,” he said.

Turning to the issue of tenders, Guvamatanga said public procurement officers in line ministries were inflating prices in connivance with suppliers. He singled out a case where Parliament approved the purchase of laptops at US$9 200 each as an example.

“In another case of a procurement agent under the Finance ministry whom I will not name, there was a deal for printers that needed to be supplied. We conducted a simple desktop research and realised that the goods were worth US$400 000. However, the contract approved quoted US$1.2 million. We had to cancel the contract and say how can US$1.2 million be stolen from the country?” said Guvamatanga.

 The government has in the past been dogged by various controversial tenders. 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 another tender to supply 79 desktops valued at US$3 000 each. The tenders were later cancelled after a public outcry. In the past, similar other controversial tenders were awarded to shadowy companies for the construction of roads, dams, bridges and supply of equipment. Government ministries have also bought vehicles and equipment which never got to be delivered despite the payment having been processed in advance.

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