Parliament’s US$1, 6m laptops tender probe postponed; MPs fail to pitch up while Treasury sends junior staffers

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By Leopold Munhende l Chief Correspondent

ABSENTEE parliamentarians, a decision by the finance ministry to send junior officials in place of Permanent Secretary George Guvamatanga, and failure to attend by some bidders all contributed to the abandonment of investigations into Parliament’s shadowy US$1, 6 million laptop tender Monday.

Parliamentary Portfolio Committee on Public Accounts Chairperson, Edwin Mushoriwa was forced to postpone the hearing, which had sought to interrogate Guvamatanga, the Procurement Regulatory Authority of Zimbabwe (PRAZ) and bidders on the US$9 200 per laptop deal that raised eyebrows, and spotlighted corruption within the august House.

The hearing will now be heard on October 17, 2022.

The decision was based on the fact that only two, himself and Norton independent legislator, Temba Mliswa, turned up while others reportedly opted to join virtually, which was never given as an option and some did not excuse themselves.

“We were supposed to have a continuation of the hearings pertaining to the issue of laptops, (and) we were supposed to have the Permanent Secretary of the Ministry of Finance Guvamatanga, PRAZ and all the bidders, as well as those that won the tender here present,” said Mushoriwa, highlighting that they did not constitute a quorum.

“Due to circumstances beyond our control, we could not make the numbers and have agreed to reschedule to Monday.

“There was a communication breakdown, others thought we were going to have it virtually, but we want these processes to have members physically present.”

Guvamatanga was the first to raise a red-flag before a public outcry after details of the deals were leaked.

Parliament was late last month forced to cancel inflated tenders to supply it with 173 laptops priced between US$3 000 and US$9 200.

Clerk of Parliament, Kennedy Chokuda, who is being pressured to resign, acknowledged approving the shadowy deal, but later blamed Parliament staffers after leaked documents exposed the graft.

Blinart Investments won a tender to supply US$1 602 755.77 worth of laptops at US$9 200 each while Mid-End Computers and Hardware was meant to supply 79 desktops at US$3 000 each.

Despite calls by Mliswa and opposition Citizens Coalition for Change (CCC) for Chokuda to resign, its apparent the top bureaucrat is staying put.