President Mnangagwa on Tuesday okayed a new decree under which all procurement in construction, medical equipment, medicines and drugs as well as protective clothing in hospitals “shall not be publicly disclosed.”
Gazetted as general notice 635 of 2023, the shocking directive prevents reporting of murky public procurement.
“It is hereby notified that the President of the Republic of Zimbabwe has, in terms of section 3(6) of the Public Procurement and Disposal of Public Assets Act [Chapter 22:23]declared the following to be of national interest and shall not be publicly disclosed-construction equipment and materials: biomedical and medical equipment; medicines and drugs (pharmaceuticals); vehicles including ambulances; laboratory equipment, chemicals and accessories; hospital protective equipment; and repairs and maintenance services of hospital equipment and machinery,” said Misheck Sibanda, chief secretary to the president and Cabinet in the notice.
The directive has been met with negative reactions with the opposition saying it was meant to hide corruption ahead of this year’s general elections.
“This regime never ceases to amaze. Chapter 9 of the Constitution defines principles of public accountability which require good corporate governance based on transparency, openness and accountability.The regime seeks to legalize kleptocracy and execrative behavior. Absolutely ridiculous,” tweeted Ex finance minister Tendai Biti.
Opposition Citizens Coalition for Change spokesperson Fadzayi Mahere questioned the motive behind concealing public procurement.
“Why must procurement details of construction material, biomedical equipment, pharmaceuticals, vehicles or hospital equipment be hidden? Why does the Govt hate transparency? Whose interests are being protected? Why create this massive scope for looting,” she asked.
The Procurement Regulatory Authority of Zimbabwe regulates all purchases made by government while the office of the auditor general is responsible for auditing all such expenditures.