The Procurement Regulatory Authority of Zimbabwe (PRAZ) has investigated 19 companies for pricing anomalies as it seeks to eliminate loopholes in public procurement and stop overcharging by suppliers.
PRAZ CEO Clever Ruswa told members of a public procurement workshop the government was making headway in its crackdown on errant suppliers, according to state newspaper The Herald.
Last August the authority launched a crackdown after Parliament revealed it had approved a deal for 173 laptops at a price of $9,200 per laptop – saying it was the best price quoted.
Suppliers had also quoted desktop PCs at a price of around $3,000 each.
The deal was cancelled after closer examination of the contract but nevertheless provoked outrage in the media.
Ruswa said the government had begun scrutinising invoices more closely. Audits last year found several government suppliers were making what is believed to be deliberate errors in pricing exchange rates for foreign currency into contracts.
“As a regulator, we did our due processes and our investigations where three out of 19 [suppliers] are now cleared while the remaining 16 are still battling to justify the behaviour they were engaged in.
“I'm happy that from where we sit as a regulator working with other arms of the governments and statutory bodies we are now putting our efforts to curb this kind of behaviour.”
Cliff Gando, capacity building director at PRAZ, said the regulator had implemented a strict sanctions framework.
He said the authority had blacklisted suppliers found to have engaged in malpractice, which would serve as a warning to other potential government vendors.
And he added the regulator was attempting to ensure that all bidders would have equal opportunity to win government contracts regardless of size.
“Bidders must be given equal opportunities. We are saying it is about capacity and equal opportunities to allow people to participate,” he said.