Civil society organisations (CSOs) have proposed that government should move away from the current system of procuring goods and services to an electronic system to eliminate corruption.
Centre for Human Rights and Rehabilitation (CHRR), which is championing a four-year open contracting project, has taken the lead to call for changes in the procurement system.
CHRR programmes manager Michael Kaiyatsa said in an interview yesterday that corruption is still rife because procurement information is not made available to the public.
He said there is need for the public to be enlightened on the open contracting initiative as that would make them participate in the procurement processes.
Among other measures, the Public Procurement and Disposal Authority devised the legal framework which partly calls for publicising of information regarding procurement and contracts on the portal so that interested bidders have access to holistic information regarding who has been awarded contracts.
But Kaiyatsa hinted that full information on contracts awarded is not available on the portal, a situation he says could be done deliberately to conceal information on the processes and beneficiaries of contracts or projects.
He said: “We did a mapping survey in the PPDA portal and we found that some information is made available but most of the important information is not made available to the general public. Corruption in the procuring chain is happening because there is too much secrecy on the processes.
“We need people to be aware of the open contracting. And we believe this will address secrecy and enhance transparency in public procurement of services and goods.”
According to him, government needs to adopt an open contracting initiative which he says will strengthen discussion and citizen participation in the procurement chain.
Meanwhile, Malawi Economic Justice Equity Network programmes manager Kelvin Chirwa has backed the open contract initiative, saying it will check abuse of public resources through misprocurement of goods and services.
He also supported electronic procurement of services, saying that the initiative, coupled with open contracting, will enhance transparency and accountability in the processes of selecting bidders to be awarded a contract. Construction Sector Transparency (Cost) executive director Joe Chingani is on record as having said that corruption is mostly done in the construction sector where contracts are normally given to cronies of those in decision-making positions.