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Whose companies are supplying COVID-19 goods?

Transparency International Zimbabwe (TIZ) executive director Muchaneta Mundopa has called on the government to publish publicly the names of beneficial owners of companies that have been awarded contracts to supply COVID-19 response related goods in the country.

Mundopa said publishing the names will go a long way in helping the CSOs and the media to make follow-ups on issues of conflict of interest and other forms of corruption.

READ: COVID-19 EVENTS AS THEY HAPPEN

Although companies in Zimbabwe are required to disclose their beneficial ownership, the list of ownership registers are not accessible to members of the public and even the media, a development which is said to be aiding corruption by government officials.

Speaking during a virtual Public Finance Resource Management Indaba organised by ZIMCODD, Mundopa said “our recommendations to the government have been to say let us publish the names of the companies that are supplying COVID-19 related items, as well as beneficial owners.

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“What we have in terms of our legal framework at the moment is beneficial ownership disclosure where the companies in terms of the Companies and Other Entities Act, companies are compelled to disclose who their beneficial owners are but that information is not accessible to the public.

“Such information is very necessary for the public to have access to especially in the context of Zimbabwe where corruption is rife, we need beneficial registers to be accessible to CSOs and media so that they can follow up on cases of conflict of interest and other forms of corruption in the public procurement because at the moment we really do not know who is the end owner or end beneficiary of the companies that are supplying us,” she said.

Mundopa added that disclosing the beneficial owners publicly will help cure speculation where government officials are reportedly awarding contracts to their own companies and even those of their close associates in violation of public procurement laws.

READ: ZIMBABWE TURNS TO TRADITIONAL HEALERS, AS COVID-19 CASES INCREASE

“Am sure you are all aware of the rumours that were circulating on social media about the likes of (Kuda) Tagwirei having a hand in some of these public procurement issues, so issues to do with public procurement, beneficial ownership are very important to us as an institution.

“The other recommendation we have been giving the government is the issue of E-procurement, honestly years later we are still publishing things in the newspapers why dont we have an online database where contracts are specified who got what, so that we can also be able to follow up on the enforcement of the contract.

“Because when you also remember the issue of none-compliance, none-enforcement of contracts you think of the issue of the ZESA transformers in the Auditors Report, which after 9 years were still not supplied,” she said.

According to the TIZ director, the word disaster in Zimbabwe has become synonymous with corruption and ZACC should have undertaken a corruption risk analysis of the gaps and opportunities that are there during the during disasters or crises and give recommendations to government on how the loopholes and gaps can be closed. Get all COVID-19 statistics for Zimbabwe from COVID-TRACKER

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Daniel Chigundu

Daniel Chigundu is the news editor for OpenParlyZW an online platform that covers Parliament of Zimbabwe activities using social media (Twitter and Facebook). He is currently the secretary-general of the Zimbabwe Parliamentary Journalists Forum and a board member of Digital Communication Network.

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