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‘Exemption of 21 entities from scrutiny will fuel corruption’

Mnangagwa last week gazetted General Notice 164B of 2024, exempting 21 public entities from compliance with the Public Procurement and Disposal of Public Assets Act.

THE Centre for Natural Resource Governance (CNRG) says President Emmerson Mnangagwa’s decision to exempt 21 companies from scrutiny in procurement and disposal of assets could breed corruption.

Mnangagwa last week gazetted General Notice 164B of 2024, exempting 21 public entities from compliance with the Public Procurement and Disposal of Public Assets Act.

Some of these companies, include the 22 now under the Mutapa Investment Fund while the President also exempted the Reserve Bank of Zimbabwe.

In a statement yesterday, CNRG expressed its deep concern over the recent proclamation.

“There was no explanation or valid reason given as justification for this move [exemption],” CNRG said.

“At CNRG we firmly believe in the importance of fair, standardised and transparent procurement processes which promote public confidence and trust. These processes play a fundamental role in ensuring that the benefits derived from the exploitation of natural resources and administration of public entities are equitably distributed among the people of Zimbabwe leading to shared prosperity.”

CNRG said procuring entities, according to the Public Procurement and Disposal of Public Assets Act, are required to acquire goods and services within available financial resources and other applicable limitations.

This is to be done in the most favourable time to achieve maximum value for public expenditure.

“The Constitution mandates in section 315 that public procurement should be carried out transparently, fairly, honestly, cost-effectively and competitively. However, the number of public procurement scandals in Zimbabwe has raised doubts on the effective implementation of these provisions,” CNRG said.

“The exemptions proposed by the President worsens a situation that is already deep in crisis. The general notice does not provide an alternative mechanism to tighten internal controls within these companies.”

CNRG said transparency in public procurement was essential to prevent corruption and impunity.

“Article 9 of the United Nations Convention Against Corruption, which Zimbabwe is a state party to, emphasises the importance of procurement systems based on transparency as a tool to prevent corruption,” CNRG said.

“In public procurement transparency guarantees principles of openness and publicity throughout all stages of the procurement cycle (pre-tendering, tendering and post-tendering) to ensure a competitive environment and the ability to monitor procurement processes’ execution.”

The removal of these 21 firms from the Act means as well that such companies can be disposed of without public sector agreement.

“We call upon the government to set aside this proclamation and uphold the principles of transparency, accountability, sustainable development and, above all, the Constitution of Zimbabwe,” CNRG said.

The organisation called on Parliament to summon the responsible ministers over the Mnangagwa proclamation.

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