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Tender boards directive sparks uproar

BULAWAYO — Bulawayo City Council (BCC) and the MDC-T have condemned the disbandment of council tender boards, a move they described as anti-devolution and development.

REPORT BY NQOBANI NDLOVU

Government has instructed all local authorities to stop procuring goods without first seeking authority from the State Procurement Board (SPB).

Local authorities have been procuring goods and services through a local tender board, made up of councillors. Councillors said the disbandment of tender boards would cripple operations of local authorities.

“In the discussion, the view was that this move had adverse and far-reaching implications that were likely to cripple councils rather than assist them,” read part of the minutes of BCC finance and development committee.

“There was need to tackle the matter through the political approach. It was noted that the amendment was much against the spirit of devolution, which was generally seen as the panacea to the skewed socio-economic development of the region.”

The MDC-T weighed in saying: “Minister [Tendai] Biti is very clear on the MDC party’s position with regards to devolution of powers and firmly believes in giving local authorities autonomy, so as to improve efficiency in service delivery to the people”.

It said previous attempts by central government to take over such duties and responsibilities from local authorities were replete with disastrous consequences. “From the forgoing, it is our considered position that central government, through the procurement board, has no business taking over local authorities procurement boards’ responsibilities,” said the party in a statement.

Bulawayo mayor, Thaba Moyo, said the BCC was seeking audience with Finance minister Tendai Biti on what to do on the affected tenders pending the finalisation of the matter.

“Council resolved to write a letter to the Minister, seeking directions on all pending tenders that are affected by these new regulations,” Moyo said last week.

Biti could not be reached for comment yesterday.

Government argued that it was necessary to seize the responsibility from council following allegations of corruption among councils over tender processes.

8 Responses to Tender boards directive sparks uproar

  1. Gutter Poet December 17, 2012 at 10:14 am #

    Centralising the tender board ensures that all local authorities use the same template when making purchases..Because of a lack of proper systems corruption had become endmic..this way local autorities can play the overseer rule to the tender board. Councils can also pool their resources via tthe tender board to get better prices as the volume becomes a negotiating point with suppliers.Council can also redeploy those excess people in purchasing and finance to the billing departments which are shambolic at the moment, sending ridiculous bills that they know given current incomes levels no one can pay. They have to listen very carefully to what the Harare and Bulawayo Residents associations are saying. Once they have this in place and only then can they be allowed to take over the tender process. Also successful prosecution of those who were caught with their hands in the tills should also be vigorously pursued. Crying foul when you have not cleaned your houses smacks of skull-duggery..the rot in the council tender system needs a thorough clean-up and this is the surest way of doing this. Duplication of tender adjudication was causing all this nonsense. You have Harare paying twice for a liter of treated water compared to everyone else in the country..why not be like TM, “one price nation wide”???…Crying “dream murder” loudest against these corrective measures shows the hand of the unrepentant corrupt among us who are seeing their livelihoods disappear! If the GTB is doing for this for them does this not save costs? Does it not bring uniformity? Rather, they should ask the GTB to set up offices in the provinces not allow the dangerous levels of corruption in tenders in local authorities to go aunabated..if they have real reasons why this should not be so, let us hear them not try and use devolution to be a mask of their ugly record of monstrous thievery in these local authorities..Let the local authority play an overseer role on the functions of the GTB in the provinces. Rather they should inisist one of their own sit on the adjudication committees and members of the chartered institute of accountants, the law society and their residents associations. As is, this is the best idea ever! The MDC should refuse to be the mask that protects thieves who feel their livelihoods have been endangered, we are talking cholera and other embarrassing diseases here. The councillors should be ashamed of themselves for wanting to continue with this ugliness as business as usual. Rather the MDC should be grateful they have been vindicated when they fired thieving councilllors across the land, why they should be seen to be in conflict with their own resolution sends a wrong signal to their supporters!

  2. Ken Girtz December 23, 2012 at 1:23 pm #

    Your sentiment is spot on and I welcome you making constructive suggestions.

    The relationship between the State Procurement Board (SPB, not GTB) and Ministry of Local Gvt (MLG) should be well defined, for it is under MLG’s watch that the local authorities have failed to coordinate and gain economies of scale. A parallel development is necessary, that MLG or SPB coordinates, consolidates, rationalises local authorities requirements for efficient procurement.

    Currently, SPB is one board, and it has not delegated authority to provinces. Creation of such provincial SPBs is a noble idea as is the appointment of stakeholder representatives; from residents associations to professional bodies. It would seem that the SPB legislation should be amended for SPB-National to play overseer role to SPB-Provincial (with delegated authority up to a financial limit).

    Underpining all this should be a computer/electronic communication enriched information system accessible to all – suppliers/bidders, councils, residents etc. Procurement should be as open as practically possible. Openness will lead to a major reduction in corruption. Note the centralisation vs devolution debate belongs to an era before open ICT systems. Move on! A BCC employee can contribute to HCC procurement decision in ONE Zimbabwe.

    There is also the governance issue. SPB is reportedly under an Executive Chairman which runs against accepted good governance practice. As spread extends to local authorities, there is need to revisit the structure, staffing and mandate of SPB itself. For instance, one could emphasize the post procurement audit function with draconian powers to punish transgression. An option is intelligent systems to do accept and evaluate bids ahead of human intervention.

    Then again,SPB works on lowest bidder to specification wins without really reflecting cost of operations and maintenance. Chinese bidders have been reported to work this system,win tenders on low bids, then subsequently raise “new” charges.

    Internal control of our economic well being is the vogue, aka indigenisation. I am not satisfied that this has been factored well into Gvt / SPB processes. Immediately we start talking local authorities, we need local control of local economies, as far as possible. Aswe factor indigenisation therefore, we should immediately factor in localisation. Why should a guy from soon to be satellite city Zvimba, supply all the systems to Chipinge town? And BCC has a point here. When local companies do the supply, there is local economic growth with all its benefits. So SPB must include requirements for bid winners to work with locals.

    Finally, the suppliers are prone profit taking that raises cost of services and utilities. SPB should be benchmarking charges in conjunction with such as ZEPARU (Zimbabwe Economic Policy and Research Unit), NECI (National Economic Conduct Inspectorate), NIPC (National Incomes and Pricing Commission) and CTC (Competition and Tariff Commission) among others!

    There has to be an “efficient standard” against which cost of utilities is measured. Greedy suppliers and, sadly, managers in local authorities looking for superstar lifestyles, should be reined in to make sure hapless residents, consumers, are protected from paying beyond what is reasonable for essential services (waste collection, water supply etc).

    I trust your comments Gutter Poet and the above combine to obviate the need for wide consultations before implementation (if we’re not late!) of this. Zimbabwean citizens do have much to contribute if all authorities stopped treating them like imbeciles. Lets get the country working again.

  3. Samaita December 24, 2012 at 9:05 pm #

    It seems an assumption is being made here that only local authorities can be corrupt,and not the SPB.Are you sure about that guys?

  4. Oskido January 6, 2013 at 11:40 am #

    You are talking nonsense.Centralizing tenders means that you Harare guys can now issues Harare companies jobs at the expense of local authorities ? We will fight this tooth and nail.What legislation is for this ? NOne ? How transparent is the so called state procurment board/Why should the city of Gweru wait for Harare to decide on its day to day business.Go to hell.

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