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Government General explains Ifmis contract

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By Serah Makondetsa:

Accountant General Chrighton Chimombo has dispelled reports regarding the suspicious awarding of a contract of the new Integrated Financial Management and Information system (Ifmis) which government wants to install.

Chimombo dismissed, in an emailed response, allegations that the new Ifmis contract was awarded dubiously to a Zimbabwean firm, Twenty Third Century Systems.

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“The process is transparent and was supervised by the World Bank. Government is continuing from the negotiation process. Twenty Third Century Systems came with [a] winning bid after going through the four evaluation processes. There is [an] evaluation report on the same that provide[s] all the information. Government is following all the processes including the clearance by Office of the Director of Public Procurement (ODPP),” he said.

Chimombo further dismissed reports that the contract was awarded to a firm that came third, arguing the awarding process went through four evaluation processes.

“The evaluation process followed the World Bank processes that included the technical evaluation, financial evaluation, due diligence and live system demonstrations. Government is currently negotiating with Twenty Third Century Systems because the bidder came first from the four processes according to the evaluation report.

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“ODPP insured approval to award the contract to Twenty Third Century Systems based on the evaluation report and other documents on the procurement process that were submitted to ODPP,” he said.

Civil society organisations (CSOs) operating under the banner Human Rights Defenders Coalition have since asked the Anti- Corruption Bureau (ACB) to investigate those who were involved in processes leading to the award.

In a statement the CSOs issued Sunday— co-signed by the chairperson and vice-chairperson Timothy Mtambo and Gift Trapence, respectively— they indicate that the process leading to the award should be terminated.

“We strongly hold that the award of the contract to the Zimbabwean firm was done with a deliberate motive to defraud the public of its already depleted resources. We are reliably informed that the chosen bidder was the third [in line] according to evaluations and we wonder why you did not choose the first and second bidders,” Mtambo said.

Gilford Kapyola, Twenty Third Century Country Director, said the process was fairly conducted.

“What I can say is that the awarding process involved demonstrations; to be shortlisted, companies went through this process. You see, to be successful it means the system demonstration was successful. The demonstration of the system formed 30 percent of the process and, according to what we got from government, we were successful,” he said.

ACB Director General, Reyneck Matemba, said he had not seen the statement.

“I haven’t seen the statement. It will, therefore, be difficult for me to comment on the contents of the said statement. Suffice it to say that I find this confusing, if not weird. I thought these are the same people that have categorically stated that they have lost confidence in me and the ACB. What makes them believe that, this time around, we won’t be compromised but that we will do a good job?” he said.

Earlier on, the Public Accounts Committee (Pac) of Parliament cautioned the government on the procurement of the new Ifmis.

Pac Chairperson, Alekeni Menyani, said the committee is aware that the government is finalising the process to roll out the new system.

The government is procuring a new Ifmis to replace the current one, which was prone to abuse and led to the loss of K23 billion in 2013.

The old version of the software, Epicor 7.3, has been due for extensive upgrading since it was installed in 2005 but Cashgate findings by British forensic auditors, Baker Tilly, established that it was grossly abused, especially by lower management accountants in the civil service— some of whom are answering charges of theft in court.

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