HARARE – President Emmerson Mnangagwa has rescinded the Public Procurement and Disposal of Public Assets Act, which sought to shield details of some procurement processes from the public domain following public outcry.
Mnangangwa said the document had been irregularly gazetted as it has no standing at law, in policy and in terms of set Government procedures.
In a notice dated May 5, 2023, government had declared that “special procurements in the public interest”, specifically the health sector, saying procurement processes falling under the category would not be publicly disclosed.
Business leader Nigel Chanakira questioned the Government Gazette on Twitter, asking, “What can be said of a government that legislates thievery while taxing its people?”
Information Permanent Secretary Nick Mangwana defended the law, stating it was meant to disentangle purchases of emergency medical supplies or critical equipment repairs from the long drawn procurement process.
“The idea is to disentangle purchases of emergency medical supplies or critical equipment repairs from the long drawn procurement process. So the import of the General Notice is not to avoid public accountability but to allow lifesaving procurement,” Mangwana defended.
“Supposing there is an urgent need for certain theatre sundries, without the “Notice”, it would mean the hospital would need to publish a tender first, and go through the long drawn process putting patient safety and life at risk. This “Notice” gives room for direct procurement of such sundries without the need for bureaucratic procurement processes,” Mangwana added.
However Magwana was to soon issue a new statement from the office of the president signalling that the new Act had been binned as it had been issued unprocedurally and was therefore unlawfull.
“His Excellency the President, Dr ED Mnangagwa, has been made aware of some document gazetted as General Notice 635 of 2023, purporting to place the procurement of certain goods outside public scrutiny, on grounds of “national interest,” wrote Chief Secretary to the President and Cabinet Misheck Sibanda in a statement.
“Upon further investigations, it has come to light that the so-called Government Gazetted Notice is a nullity, having been published without authorisation, and without the signature of the Chief Secretary to the President and Cabinet, as is the norm.
“While further investigations are underway, Government wishes to advise the public that, on the instruction of His Excellency the President, the document in question has been rescinded as it has no standing at law, in policy and in terms of set Government procedures. It thus should be disregarded,” Sibanda continued.
“Government remains committed as ever to managing a transparent public procurement policy and process, as required by the laws of the country.”