Billions of dollars will be lost to corruption – CCC, CSOs blast Mnangagwa’s ‘unconstitutional’ secret procurement bid

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By Staff Reporter

PRESIDENT Emmerson Mnangagwa has stirred up a storm after passing a controversial decree through a Statutory Instrument (SI) under which procurement in construction, medicines and drugs will not be publicly disclosed.

The SI has been described as a counterproductive law that stifles accountability and transparency in the use of public funds.

In a general notice by Chief Secretary to the President and Cabinet, Misheck Sibanda, Mnangagwa declared SI 635 of 2023 that special procurements in the public interest in the Health sector will no longer be disclosed to the public.

“It is hereby notified that the President of the Republic of Zimbabwe has, in terms of section 3(6) of the Public Procurement and Disposal of Public Assets Act [Chapter 22:23], declared the following to be of national interest and shall not be publicly disclosed.

“Construction equipment and materials, medicines and drugs (pharmaceuticals), hospital protective equipment, and biomedical and medical equipment,” read SI 635 of 2023.5.9

According to the new law, costs and expenditure related to vehicles including ambulances, laboratory equipment, chemicals and accessories will no longer be made public.

The same will also apply for repairs and maintenance services of hospital equipment and machinery.

Opposition Citizens Coalition for Change leader Nelson Chamisa said the SI’s secrecy will be used to cover up corruption.

“Conventional wisdom on prudential and fiduciary management fundamentals teaches that there must be checks and balances for accountability and process credibility. Competitive has been defeated,” Chamisa said on Twitter.

“One person runs everything, everywhere. Cartels have destroyed Zimbabwe! It’s just wrong to have the Procurement Regulatory Authority of Zimbabwe under the office of President and Cabinet. This is an area of reform priority,” he added.

Former Finance Minister and CCC legislator, Tendai Biti, added the SI is in clear contradiction of statutes within the constitution.

“This regime never ceases to amaze. Chapter 9 of the Constitution defines principles of public accountability which require good corporate governance based on transparency, openness and accountability. The regime seeks to legalise kleptocracy and execrative behaviour,” Biti said.

Civil Society Organisation, Crisis in Zimbabwe Coalition chairperson, Peter Mutasa, warned the country will lose billions of dollars to corruption.

“This is clearly unconstitutional. Such a broad range of items are definitely worth billions a year. It can only be allowed in a banana republic. This is legislating to further corrupt interests of the ruling elites and with this Parliament is rendered useless,” wrote Mutasa on Twitter.