The Clerk of Parliament, Kennedy Chokuda and the director of procurement, Stanley Bhebhe, appeared in court on Thursday charged with two counts of Criminal Abuse of Duty as a Public Officer as defined in section 174 of the Criminal Law [Codification and Reform] Act Chapter 9:23.
The two men appeared before Harare regional magistrate Vongai Guwuriro, who granted them $100 000 bail each, reported ZiMetro News.
The court heard that on 17 June 2022, the Parliament of Zimbabwe flighted an advert inviting interested bidders for the supply and delivery of 173 laptops and 79 desktops.
Ninety-two (92) companies showed interest, and the number was reduced to 30 after some were disqualified for different reasons.
On 29 October 2022, Mid-End Computers was notified by Parliament that it had been awarded the contract to supply 79 desktops at US$3 076 each for a total of US$243 052 payable at the interbank rate.
Treasury, however, refused to release the payment citing the extortionate prices.
The court further heard that on 16 September, Bhebhe originated a letter, on the instructions of Chokuda, to the Procurement Regulatory Authority of Zimbabwe (PRAZ) asking for authority to negotiate a price reduction.
Bhebhe in turn instructed Rudo Doka, the director of external relations, to append her signature on Chokuda’s behalf, as he was away.
But PRAZ replied and advised Parliament that negotiating a price reduction was against Section 52 of the Procurement Act which prohibits negotiations between procuring entities and bidders.
Prosecutors said the two asked for authority from PRAZ although they had already negotiated for a price reduction with Noah Sakudye, the director of Mid-End Computers on 7 September.
An agreement was reached and the price was reduced from US$243 000 to US$180 000 for the supply and delivery of 79 desktops.
It was alleged that the meeting was chaired by Parliament’s chief director of finance, Bernard Zvamada.
They allegedly submitted an unsigned Standard Bidding Document which would ordinarily be signed by Chokuda as the accounting officer.
Prosecutors said Chokuda should have cancelled the tender and re-tendered.
On the second count, Chokuda and Bhebhe unlawfully negotiated a tender that was issued to Blinart Investments.
The duo allegedly negotiated with Elizabeth Muchenje, the director of Blinart Investments Pvt Ltd, on 9 September.
An agreement was reached on the same day to reduce the price of a single laptop from US$9 264 to US$7 985.
Source | ZiMetro News
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