Zimbabwe’s auditor-general, Mildred Chiri, is set to be removed from the Special Procurement Oversight Committee (SPOC) due to her conflict of interest.
The autonomy of auditors in the performance of their professional duties has always been considered a cornerstone of the profession.
Auditors should submit independent opinions.
In this respect, Chiri’s presence in SPOC, gives rise to a conflict of interest since she would come back and audit the books of procuring State entities which use public funds, a situation which calls for transparency to ensure that the government gets the best terms and value for money.
It also reduces corruption.
Procurement Regulatory Authority of Zimbabwe (PRAZ) CEO Nyasha
Chizu said the authority was working on amending the Public Procurement and Disposal of Public Assets Act to close some gaps especially in the Special Procurement Oversight Committee, in which the auditor-general is part of.
“There is a proposal to remove her because of conflict of interest,” Chizu said.
Under part X111 of the Public Procurement and Disposal of Public Assets Act, contracts could be scrutinised by SPOC which shall report to the minister and PRAZ.
The chair of the SPOC is the Attorney general’s office, deputised by the Accountant General.
The Auditor General and the principal director at Public Works are part of the committee.
The Committee will ensure monitoring, evaluation, and professionalism of the decentralised procurement which is now taking place in the procurement Management Unit within the independent enterprises.
Procurement is a strategic tool in public services delivery hence the need to
professionalise and modernise the process.
“Regulations for professionalisation of practitioners are not yet out.
Once out, we will regulate,” Chizu said, adding that the authority is proposing the transitional period by one year meant to ensure that systems
are put in place.
The magnitude of government expenditure is between 20% and 25% of
the 2020 National Budget, which is currently at about ZWL$60bn.
The new Act abolished the State Procurement Board which was the supervisor, responsible for making procurement decisions.
And it created PRAZ, which is no longer involved in the adjudication and awarding of tenders like before.
The award of tenders is now being done by accounting officers in various state departments and companies, with the authority, only playing a supervisory and monitoring role to ensure government entities comply
with the new Act and other set standards.
Public sectors are supposed to establish procurement management units which are supposed to be manned by licensed professional procurement officers in the terms of the Public Procurement and Public Disposal Act [chapter 22:23].
However, the progress on the implementation of the legislation had been lagging with some public services turning a blind eye on the employment of the Act.
Reluctance in the adoption of the act can be caused by the inability to accept responsibilities.