Councillors are up in arms over the procurement of goods and services by City of Harare (CoH) departments, with allegations of mismanagement and corruption being raised with regards to tender processes.
At a recent full council meeting, councillors said that there are huge irregularities in the Supply Chain Division at the Town Clerk’s Office, which has allegedly been procuring sub-standard goods and services from suppliers, and sometimes even the wrong goods. This was noted by councillors who requested resources and materials under the ten percent retention scheme for ward development. Councillors called for the return of a council procurement committee board to curb the anomalies arising during the buying process.
Councillors who later spoke to Harare News on condition of anonymity said there has been massive corruption by municipality buyers. “Tenders and orders are being handed over to family, friends and associates,” said one councillor.
At an audit committee meeting on 25 February, members noted the grey areas in the supply chain division, and agreed to begin the process of creating a procurement board comprising councillors and members of management who would put an end to misdealing. Acting Town Clerk Josephine Ncube expressed reservations at the idea, saying that this would run contrary to the State Procurement Act to which council is beholden. She also expressed concern that since the State Procurement Board is under review, there might be legal problems with such autonomous behaviour once a new framework is released. In response, council tasked the acting chamber secretary with devising the terms of reference for a board that does not conflict with regulations.
Harare News spoke to currently suspended Mayor Bernard Manyenyeni before his suspension about this issue. Manyenyeni explained that the setting up of the procurement committee is aimed at perfecting the municipality procurement system.
“Our goal particularly in this council, is to perfect the system. To make it the best ever for a local authority … We are saying lets us look at the best practices,” Manyenyeni told Harare News.
When asked if the envisaged committee might be manipulated and end up being involved in corrupt activities, the mayor said the fear is justified. “As we set-up this committee we are also exploring how we are going to make it a perfect entity. We don’t want a situation where we are jumping from the frying pan into the fire,” he said.
Image: Townhouse, Harare