History of Public Procurement Reforms
Public Procurement in Zimbabwe was regulated by the Procurement Act (No. 1 of 1999) [Chapter 22: 14] that gave effect to the establishment of the State Procurement Board. The State Procurement Board was in terms of Section 5 of that Act, responsible for:-
- Conducting procurement on behalf of procuring entities where the class of procurement was within the threshold prescribed in the Regulations,
- Supervising procurement proceedings conducted by procuring entities in order to ensure compliance with the Act, and
- Initiating investigations and taking action thereof.
The State Procurement Board was headed by an Executive Chairman who was assisted by a non-executive Board and a secretariat headed by the Principal Officer. The Procurement Act [Cap 22:14] only regulated the approaches to the market and contract awards. There were no provisions to regulate the whole procurement cycle.
In 2010, the Ministry of Finance and Economic Development with support from the World Bank commissioned a Country Integrated Fiduciary Assessment (CIFA) that assessed Public Finance Management Systems (PFMS) together with Public Procurement Management Systems. The procurement management systems review produced a Country Procurement Assessment Report (CPAR) (2012) for Zimbabwe that was adopted by Government in February 11, 2015.
The other reason for the reform of the State Procurement Board was the provision of Section 315 of the Constitution of Zimbabwe Amendment (No. 1) Act 2013 that required establishment of an Act of Parliament that would prescribe Public Procurement rules for all State institutions and agencies of the Government at all levels so that Public Procurement is undertaken in a manner that is transparent, fair, honesty, cost-effective and competitive. There was need for provisions for negotiation of joint venture contracts (Public-private partnerships) in a manner that was transparent, honesty, cost-effective and competitive manner.
A new State Procurement Board was established on November 1, 2015 to champion the transition to the new order. A State Procurement Board Reform Project was then established under the Office of the President and Cabinet to champion the reforms with support from Zimbabwe Reconstruction Fund (ZIMREF).
The reforms project had three main objectives of:-
- Institutional and legislative reforms
- Capacity building,
- Establishment of an electronic Government Procurement system (e-GP) strategy.
The Cabinet in October 2015 approved the principles of the new Bill that covered the following issues:-
- The scope of the Bill was to cover all public entities at all levels, all types of procurement and the whole procurement cycle with provisions for exemptions and exclusion.
- The establishment of the Procurement Regulatory Authority of Zimbabwe.
- Decentralisation of public procurement decision making process as well as the organisation of procurement within procuring entities.
- Professionalization and modernisation of public procurement.
- Rationalisation of appeal mechanisms.
- Sanctions for procurement officers and suppliers.
Consultations and sensitization was conducted between January and February 2016 with all stakeholders that included the public sector, private sector, civil society and Parliamentarians. A Bill was developed and was submitted for Parliamentary review process. A notice of the ascent of the new Public Procurement and Disposal of Public Assets (No. 5 of 2017) Act [Chapter 22: 23] was published in the Government Gazette of August 4, 2017 after the due process.
Public Procurement is the procedure though which public bodies such as Government Ministries, Departments, Parastatals, Local Authorities and other Government Agencies acquire goods and services and construct or acquire buildings and other infrastructure. It usually entails tendering, calling for bids from suppliers and accepting the most favourable bid.
Efficiency and integrity in Public Procurement is essential to ensure sound public service delivery and maintains citizens’ trust in Government. The procurement process must therefore be cost-effective, fair, transparent and effective.
- A Draft Bill was developed after consultations with Central Government, Parastatals, Private Sector, Civic Society and Parliament were conducted;
- The Principles of the Bill were presented and approved by Cabinet in December 2015;
- A new State Procurement Board was appointed on the 1st of November 2015 to facilitate smooth transition to the new order; and
- Procurement Regulations were also amended to enhance accountability and responsibility in public procurement decision making, where Accounting Officers now award tenders subject to the State Procurement Board issuing a No-Objection.
- On August 4, 2017, the new Public Procurement and Disposal of Public Assets Act [Cap 22:23] was gazetted.
- The new Procurement Regulations based on the new Act are being finalised and will be gazetted soon.
- The reform will culminate in the establishment of the Procurement Regulatory Authority of Zimbabwe (PRAZ) and adoption of an e-Government Procurement (e-GP) System.
Section 315 of the Constitution of Zimbabwe provides for a need of an Act of Parliament prescribing procedures for the procurement of goods and services by the State and all institutions of the Government in a manner that is transparent, fair, honest, cost effective and competitive and providing for negotiations of joint ventures and public private partnerships in a transparent, honest, cost effective and competitive manner.