Vice President Constantino Chiwenga who doubles as the Health minister has triggered an amendment to the Public Procurement and Disposal of Assets Act to exclude the Auditor-General from the special procurement oversight committee.
Cabinet Tuesday accepted the principles for the amendment of the legislation implying that the law will not be sent to the Attorney General’s office for drafting.
The law provides for control and regulation of public procurement and disposal of public assets to ensure it is transparent, fair, honest, cost-effective and competitive.
Speaking during the Tuesday Post-Cabinet media briefing in Harare, Information minister Monica Mutsvangwa said the act in its current form does not sufficiently provide for capacity building of staff employed in public procurement roles, hence the often unsatisfactory compliance which undermines the integrity of public procurement processes. She said:
Cabinet has agreed that the Auditor General be excluded from the membership of the Special Procurement Oversight Committee. This is because one of the Auditor General’s functions in terms of section 309 of the Constitution is to audit the accounts, financial systems and financial management of all departments, institutions and agencies of Government as well as provincial and metropolitan councils and all local authorities.
Cabinet observed that:
- the Chief Executive Officer (CEO) should not serve as secretary to the Board of the State Procurement Oversight Committee.
- The stand-still period, whereby procuring entities were not allowed to do anything for 14 days to allow for the challenging of the award, will also be reduced to seven days if the amendments are effected.
- On Disposal of Assets to Employees, there is a loophole in the current Act which leaves room for close family members to manipulate the disposal of public assets.
The move to amend the law is widely believed to be part of government efforts to cut the influence of Auditor-General Mildred Chiri, who has been constant in exposing of widespread mismanagement of public funds.
Recently, Chiwenga was accused of attempting to prevent the tabling in Parliament of the Audit report which exposed the abuse of COVID-19 funds by officials in the Health ministry.