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Changes to public procurement regulation in Zimbabwe

Zimbabwe’s new Public Procurement and Disposal of Public Assets Act {Chapter 22:23} (the Public Procurement Act) came into effect on 1 January 2018. The new Act repealed the Procurement Act {Chapter 22:14}.

The Public Procurement Act regulates the procurement cycle from procurement planning, approaches to the market, evaluation and award of tenders, contract management and disposal of assets. Under the old Act, the State Procurement Board conducted procurement on behalf of procuring entities.

The 2018 legislation paves way for the Procurement Regulatory Authority of Zimbabwe which has an oversight role over public entities. In terms of the new legislation, public entities are responsible for their own procurement where the value of the construction works, consultancy and non-consultancy services are below a specified threshold.

The Authority is responsible for overseeing and regulating procurement activities conducted by government ministries, parastatals and local authorities. The Authority has the powers to issue directives to procurement entities (State controlled entities), order them to provide information about their procurement proceedings among other issues, to ensure compliance with the law.

The Act sets out the procedures to be followed and the steps to be taken in procurement proceedings to ensure fairness, transparency and honesty. This is also in line with Section 9 of the Constitution which calls upon the government to ‘adopt and implement policies and legislation to develop efficiency, competence, accountability, transparency, personal integrity and financial probity’.

Section 11 of the Act obliges the authority to report annually to Parliament on its activities and functions of the public procurement system. The Board is also subject to prosecution for negligence, wrong – doing or breach of contract. This ensures accountability and fairness whilst guarding against political manipulation, corruption and inefficiency.

In general, an efficient public procurement system enhances a government’s public welfare role, particularly in Africa where governments are the major drivers for economic development.

In terms of section 28 of the new Act, bidders are permitted to participate in the procurement proceedings without regard to nationality. However, in evaluating bids, a procuring entity may give preference to Zimbabwean bidders provided that the preference is clearly stated in the bidding documents.

The Act clearly provides for the nature and manner of publication of invitation to tenders, standard form requirements for bids and proposals, criteria for evaluation of bids and proposals, access to relevant information and official documents, description of goods, services and work being put to tender, provisions for security deposit and other matters. These provisions, if complied with, and actively enforced, can guard against bribery, favouritism, unethical behaviour, preferential treatment and, can ensure fair, impartial evaluation of contract proposals.

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