HARARE, In a surprising turn of events, President Mnangagwa of Zimbabwe has ordered the withdrawal of a notice that banned the disclosure of procurement details regarding health assets. The ban, which was outlined in General Notice 635 of 2023, drew considerable criticism from government critics, who argued that it could lead to corruption, misuse of public funds, and a loss of public trust in government institutions.
The decision to rescind the ban was prompted by the unauthorized publication of General Notice 635 of 2023, which lacked the necessary authorization and signature from the Chief Secretary to the President and Cabinet, Dr Misheck Sibanda. In a statement issued by Dr Sibanda, he emphasized that the document in question was a nullity and should be disregarded.
The Office of the President and Cabinet clarified that the ban on disclosing procurement details was initially implemented to expedite the process of direct procurement, particularly in urgent situations that required swift action without bureaucratic delays. However, critics expressed concerns about the potential for misuse of public funds and the deterioration of service quality if transparency was compromised.
The decision to withdraw the ban reflects the government’s commitment to upholding a transparent public procurement policy and process, in line with the country’s laws. The move aims to address public concerns and reinforce the credibility of government institutions responsible for providing essential services.
The ban had triggered a wave of public outcry, amplified by social media platforms, where citizens and opposition figures voiced their discontent. Advocate Fadzayi Mahere, a spokesperson for the Citizens’ Coalition for Change (CCC), questioned the legitimacy of the ban, highlighting the importance of maintaining transparency even during emergencies. Professor Jonathan Moyo criticized the Ministry of Information’s handling of the situation, raising questions about the government spokesperson’s role and accountability.
Critics of the ban argued that its revocation should have been promptly addressed, as delays in acknowledging the concerns only fueled public skepticism. Journalist Mduduzi Mathuthu drew attention to the urgency required in responding to such matters, suggesting that a similar delay could have more severe consequences if misinformation about the president’s resignation were to circulate.
The withdrawal of the ban on disclosing the procurement of health assets represents a significant step towards preserving transparency and accountability in the government’s operations. By actively addressing public concerns and rectifying the situation, President Mnangagwa’s administration aims to restore public trust and maintain the credibility of Zimbabwe’s governance and procurement processes.
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