US$320 Million Russian Helicopters Deal Never Approved In National Budget – Biti
By Staff Reporter
HARARE – President Emmerson Mnangagwa’s administration has been criticised over the purchase of 32 helicopters from Russia worth a reported US$320 million without following laid down procurement procedures.
Mnangagwa took delivery of 18 out of the 32 Kazan Ansat helicopters from Russia under a public-private partnership (PPP) last Thursday.
The helicopters reportedly cost US$2.5 million each when new but Zimbabwe bought each of the planes for US$10 million amid indications that they are secondhand.
The Government said the choppers will be used as air ambulances, search and rescue, and air policing.
Former Minister of Finance, Tendai Biti, who is CCC deputy president, told The Standard that procurement procedures were not followed in buying the planes. Biti said:
Remember all expenditures are approved in Parliament, but this expenditure was never approved in the budget.
It means that it’s an unlawful purchase.
The country’s procurement law makes it very clear that there has to be competitive bidding during a procurement process and certainly this was not done.
The state should challenge the immorality of this. Why are they buying helicopters when civil servants are not properly paid?
US$320 million is a lot of money and their bigger priority is buying helicopters.
It’s now self-evident that the prices are inflated, this also means that the brand new helicopter will cost US$2.5 million yet we are being sold a second-hand helicopter at almost the same amount.
The problem that we have as a country is that we now have a kleptomaniac government, so anything that happens they are just thinking about money, corruption and the bottom line of their self-aggrandisement.
Biti pledged to raise the matter in Parliament and ask the relevant committee to investigate the murky deal.
The Government recently backtracked on a new law that sought to conceal procurement processes in the Health ministry from the public after an outcry.
Mnangagwa repealed the General Notice 635 gazetted in an extraordinary Government gazette last week after critics argued that the law would promote corruption.