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Position on centralization of tender processes and procurement as proposed by the General Laws Amendment Bill 2010
Bulawayo Progressive Residents Association (BPRA)
March 04, 2011

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Introduction

The Minister of Legal and Parliamentary Affairs in the government of National Unity, Patrick Chinamasa introduced the General Laws Amendment Bill of 2010 to Parliament for discourse, deliberation and if agreed upon, ratification into law. The Bill is set to be presented at public hearings across the country in the upcoming months. The Parliament of Zimbabwe, having passed a paltry seven Acts in 2010 by Zimbabwean standards, is set to amend a number of laws so as to centralize all procurement and tender allocation by local authorities to fall under one national body. Currently, all government Ministries in need of goods to undertake their various mandates have to go through the State Procurement Board empowered by the Procurement Act (22:14) while local authorities procure their goods through Municipal Procurement Boards as stipulated by the Urban Councils Act (29:15). The implications of this amendment do not bode well for residents, policy implementation and cities across the country because of a number of reasons that shall be outlined below.

Problem statement

The Urban Councils Act of 1995 is the law governing the calling for tenders by municipalities. Basically, this act places the responsibility for appointing the Municipal Procurement Board for the municipality (and its members) on the municipal council.

To quote:

Every municipal council shall appoint a municipal procurement board consisting of not less than five and not more than seven members, which shall be responsible for arranging tenders in terms of section two hundred and eleven and for making recommendations to the council in regard to the acceptance of tenders and the procurement of goods, materials and services.(Urban Councils Act 29:15 Section 210)

The Procurement Regulations are based on the Model Law on Procurement of Goods and Construction adopted by the United Nations Commission on International Trade Law in 1993.

Of concern to the BPRA are clauses 12, 18 and 19 of the Bill.

Clause 12 amends the Procurement Act [Chapter 22:14] so that all local authorities are deemed to be procuring entities in terms of the Act. The clause amends Section 2 ("interpretation") (2) of the Procurement Act by the repeal of the proviso and the substitution of the following: "Provided that the Minister shall not make any such declaration in relation to a person other than a body corporate wholly owned or controlled by the state without that person's consent."

Clause 18 repeals section 79 of the Rural District Councils Act [Chapter 29:13] which provides for contracts and tenders of councils. The tendering process will be done in terms of the procurement Act [Chapter 22:14].

Clause 19 repeals sections 210 and 211 of the Urban Councils Act [Chapter 29:15] which provides for the Procurement Board and the tender process respectively, which is proposed to fall under the ambit of the Procurement Act.

What these three clauses 12, 18 and 19 seek to do is to centralize all procurement of local authorities, both urban and rural. Whereas there are 91 procurement boards from Zimbabwe's 91 local authorities, the Bill seeks to abolish the procurement boards so that all the councils fall under one procurement board, the State Procurement Board.

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