HARARE, May 13, 2015 – With the introduction of e-government procurement, the Government of Zimbabwe has launched a new program designed to accelerate the modernization of its public procurement system and help reduce opportunities for corruption.
Details of the modernization process were discussed during a recent workshop of more than 200 heads of ministries, parastatals and local authorities. Dr. Misheck Sibanda, chief secretary to the cabinet in the Office of the President, said the procurement reforms were necessitated by the huge potential for corrupt practices in the tendering process. He emphasized that the reforms to procurement should “engender efficiency, transparency, accountability and competitiveness.”
The procurement reform effort is supported by the World Bank Group (WBG), in partnership with the African Development Bank. During the workshop, Howard Centenary, WBG senior procurement specialist, shared the results of the 2011 Country Procurement Assessment Report (CPAR), which recommends the decentralization of procurement to spending agencies.
“An efficient and transparent procurement system presents an opportunity for Zimbabwe to make use of its limited resources available for development,” Centenary said, noting that 20% of the national budget is spent on development. The report also recommends the transformation of the State Procurement Board to an independent procurement regulatory authority responsible for setting standards, monitoring performance of the procurement system and the building of capacity agencies.
During his keynote address, Sibanda said several of the report recommendations had been adopted in the reform roadmap.
- Revision of the country’s laws and institutional framework
- The establishment of a monitoring framework for agencies to report their procurement, in line with the upcoming National Monitoring and Evaluation Policy
- Procurement will be technology enabled, in line with the broader e-government program already underway
Sibanda also informed participants that following the workshop, a task force consisting of key government departments under the leadership of the Office of the President and Cabinet would be established to spearhead the reform process.
Participants at the workshops endorsed the proposed reforms, emphasizing the need to build the capacity of the procuring agencies as part of the reform process with manuals, guidance notes and standard documents provided to implementers. Suggestions from participants include;
- The establishment of Procurement Management Units in spending agencies manned by procurement professionals that can adequately guide accounting officers on procurement
- Linking procurement planning to the ongoing results-based budgeting reforms
- Development of appropriate e-procurement safeguards to prevent possible cyber-fraud while improving transparency and competitiveness
- The establishment of a procurement professionals board or council to encourage self-regulation of procurement professionals
- Development of strong measures to authenticate local content to avoid abuse
- Establishment of special procurement arrangements for commercially-oriented parastatals and state enterprises to help Zimbabwe compete favorably with their competitors in the private sector, who have more efficient systems
In closing the workshop, the Deputy Chief Secretary Dr. Ndhlukula laid out the roadmap for the reform process which is expected to culminate in the submission of the Procurement Act amendment bill to Parliament in June 2015 with enactment of the law expected by October 2015. Reforms to the State Procurement Board and building the capacity of agencies shall proceed in parallel. He announced the agencies that would constitute the reform task force and committed to appointing a reform champion by the end of February 2015.
Zimbabwe is one of the pioneer procurement reform countries in Africa, having established a procurement law in 1999. In the last six years, the World Bank has supported procurement reform and capacity building in Zimbabwe, including the 2011 Country Procurement Assessment Report, training of procuring agencies and capacity building of the State procurement Board.
In response to the Government of Zimbabwe’s request, the World Bank will support the implementation of e-procurement, the implementation of reforms to the procurement framework and building of capacity of procuring agencies. This is being considered under the multi-donor funded Zimbabwe Reconstruction Fund administered by the World Bank.