HARARE, The Zimbabwe government has warned corrupt officials at State-owned enterprises (SOEs) and parastatals that they will be sent to jail for offences related to flouting public procurement regulations, a senior official says.

Addressing a meeting to sensitize officials on the Public Procurement and Disposal of Public Assets Act here Monday, the Deputy Chief Secretary to the President and Cabinet, Dr Ray Ndlukula, said procurement officials from parastatals and government departments should not bow to pressure from politicians in awarding tenders as they would end up in prison alone for corruption.

"You will receive a lot of pressures from not only service providers, but also from politicians trying to influence how you make decisions and if you are professional enough, you should be able to weather the storm.," he said

"Remember if you succumb, when you go to Chikurubi (Maximum Security Prison), you will be by yourself. Remember how politicians are, they influence you to make a decision but when you stand before the Public

Accounts Committee (of Parliament) or before the Procurement Regulatory Authority of Zimbabwe (PRAZ) and you cannot answer, they will tell you 'I was never there'. And you will end up in Chikurubi all by yourself. So please be careful," he said.

The new Public Procurement and Disposal of Public Assets Act of 2017, provides for decentralization of procurement activities to Ministries, departments and agencies as opposed to the past when all purchases were done by the State Procurement Board.

This means that the new PRAZ will be responsible for regulation, monitoring and evaluation of procurement by departments while heads of Ministries and agencies are empowered to do own procurement.

Dr Ndlukula said the new feature would go a long way in expediting implementation of various projects.

"This is aimed at ensuring that procurement decisions are free from undue influence at all levels hence strengthening professionalism of procurement in the public sector. There is the other side of me that

needs to be realistic and say there will be one or two rogue elements that will spoil the apple, we do not want that. One or two will stray and we will be reading about them in the newspapers having been sent to

Chikurubi (prison). But I hope that we do not get there," he said.

He said the public procurement reforms were also aimed at eliminating corruption and resource leakages, which have had a ruinous and detrimental effect on the Zimbabwean economy.