CLERK of Parliament Kennedy Chokuda, who is one of the Parliament bosses that entered into an exorbitant laptop deal with a downtown stationery supplier, has turned around and said he was against the astronomical prices quoted.
A scandal erupted this weekend after official documents of the Treasury were leaked on social media, revealing that the Parliament of Zimbabwe requested Government to pay a supplier for the delivery of 79 desktop computers and 173 laptops.
However, it turned out the gadgets were astronomically priced and the Treasury turned down a request for payment.
The laptops suppliers, Blinart Pvt Ltd, sells Chinese cellphones in downtown Harare as well as an assortment of stationery and printing cartridges, according to its social profile.
But Chokuda, in a statement issued in response to the exploding scandal, said Parliament did not request the supplier to be paid. In actual fact, said Chokuda, he ordered on 9 August that the tender be cancelled after realising the prices were extortionate.
This is contrary to the letter by Finance Ministry’s Permanent Secretary George Guvamatanga which was signed on 14 September turning down a request for payment.
Guvamatanga noted with concern that the prices meant each laptop was being priced at USD9 264.48 and each desktop computer at USD3 076.61, prices which in any circumstances were ridiculously exorbitant.
Furthermore, another document by Parliament’s Evaluation Committee dated 29 August also praised the laptops supplier, but Chokuda has sprung to his defence saying he had actually stopped the tender.
Chokuda claims credit
“The Parliament of Zimbabwe notes with concen the circulation of official documents on social media regarding the procurement of ICT cquipment for the institution,” Chokuda said. “This statement is, therefore, issued in the public interest to set the record straight on the matter.
“It is a fact that Parliament did go to tender with the view to purchasing various ICT
equipment that foms part of the tools of the trade for Parliament. In total compliance with the Public Procurement and Disposal of Public Assets Act and our Procurement Plan, the tender was duly advertised in the local media on 19 and 23d June 2022 and in the Covermment Gazette on 15 June 2022 requesting potential suppliers to submit their bids for the supply of the ICT equipment.
“In compliance with the national procurement procedures, the submissions were duly considered by the Evaluation Committee and forwarded for further scrutiny by the Special Oversight Procurement Committee (SPOC) It is during these processes that two companies were cleared as meeting the set criteria, including the lowest price submissions payable in local currency.”
Chokuda adds: “According to procurement regulations, it is a mandatory requirement that all bidders are made aware of the results of the tender process as reflected in the said signed letter being circulated on social media.
“However, while all the procurement processes had been adhered to and cognizant of the need to exercise prudence and probity in all procurement processes, our due diligence processes indicated that the prices quoted were highly inflated. It is at this particular point that on Friday 9 August 2022,” said Chokuda.
However, 9th August was a Tuesday and not a Friday as Chokuda claims.
Chokuda further claimed credit for ordering the cancellation of the tender, yet Guvamatanga also in his September letter directed that the tender be cancelled.
“I, as the Accounting Oficer, directed the Parliament’s Director Procurement Unit, in the presence of the Director Audit, to initiate cancellation of the tender and to proceed with retendering as the quoted prices were not justified,” said Chokuda.
“It is in thís regard, that no contract has been signed with any of the two suppliers, and no payment processes have been activated in respect of thie two suppliers.”
… but documents prove Chokuda to be lying
But the same Chokuda signed a letter on 29 August praising the Blinart Investments, the supplier of overpriced laptops, saying he was “impressed” with their tender documentation.
Chokuda further appended his signature to the document which accepted the astronomical prices, saying their bid was “more responsive” to Parliament’s requirements.
He said as an institution of Parliament, they were continually reviewing their procurement processes and procedures.
“This incident provides an opportunity for us to reflect on our processes to make them more tight and robustly transparent,” Chokuda said.
Members of Parliament in May 2021 unanimously resolved to re-appoint Chokuda to serve his second and final six-year term as head of administration.
Chokuda was initially appointed as Clerk of Parliament in May 2015 replacing long service Austin Zvoma who had reached retirement age. – HourlyHits