Prolonged delays in service delivery – It is a fact well proven that bureaucratic channels between decentralized entities such as local authorities and central government are cumbersome and time-wasting. Councils are experiencing delays in getting to fund the provision of services because the Minister of Local Government, Rural and Urban Development has to approve the Council budget first. During the economic collapse of the past decade, Municipal projects that were quoted at relatively low prices fell victim to inflation such that by the time the Minister put his signature of approval to the budget, the costs of the project would have multiplied tenfold. In other words, a crack on a council road will have become a pothole by the time Council gets approval to use levies collected to repair it. This example points to the possible bottlenecks that will affect service delivery if the Bill pushes through. As it is the State Procurement Board is currently buying for more than 30 government entities. Adding the local authorities would burden the board and result in delays in the procurement of important things like the water chemicals resulting in the council failing to carry out its duties or getting the board as its excuse for service delivery failure.
- The 32 government ministries,
- Parastatals such as;
Enhanced corruption- The tender process in Zimbabwe has become a hotbed for corruption where government officials responsible for the allocation of tenders, together with powerful politicians in the different lines Ministries, have benefitted from kickbacks and bribery. The current dubious empowerment wave has meant that very few Zimbabweans from one political parties have been benefitting from government programmes and tender processes on behalf of all Zimbabweans. By centralizing all purchases of government, the amendments will increase the base upon which these corrupt officials feed as they will have towns and cities in the list of areas to gain wealth and power through. History has taught Zimbabweans that where tender processes take place, companies belonging to influential people some of which use the accrued wealth to sponsor militias to carry out acts of violence, are the ones that benefit.
Absence of accountability- Members of the State Procurement Board are appointed by the President hence they are political appointees who are only accountable to the criminally immune Head of State. Centralizing the tender processes will mean that the Board, inaccessible to the general public for accountability purposes, cannot be questioned on negligence, delays, corruption or incompetence. The current status quo where tender processes are carried out by the local authorities ensures accountability and participation of residents both as tender seekers and monitors. It is easy for residents to bring councilors to account rather than appointed members of the procurement board who are answerable only to their appointer.
Election and composition of the State Procurement Board – Unlike the Municipality Procurement Board, the state entity is chosen by the Head of State, leaving room for patronage and abuse of office to further political ends. Besides, the process by which the President appoints the Board is not elaborate in the Act hence making the Board accountable to a limited few. Such a scenario is an affront to the principles of accountability and transparency since the members of the Board are political appointees’ rather professional technocrats.
Flawed aspects of the Procurement Act – There is a wide schism of consistency between the laws governing national procurement and municipal procurement in the sense that some aspects are specified and enforced in one act while being silent and lenient in others. For example, unlike the Urban Councils Act (which governs municipal tenders), the Procurement Act & Regulations do not spell out the minimum period from publication to closing date and the prerequisite publication of the tender in two local newspapers. In this sense, the legislation is stricter on municipalities than it is on central government departments and public enterprises. Once municipality procurement boards are assimilated into the national body, the laxity in the processing of tenders will filter down to local authorities leading to more corruption and worse service delivery. The Act also says that a municipal council may compile a register of contractors, this is not a prescribed requirement for municipalities while the Procurement Act and Regulations are stringent on the State Procurement Board. What this implies is that the procedure for calling for tenders by municipalities needs to be in line with the national government guidelines provided by the first three laws as it is not advisable for such anomalies being open to manipulation by corrupt officials.