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Are the $9,200 laptops that the Zim parliament almost bought really overpriced?

What happened was that the Parliament of Zimbabwe needed new laptops and desktops. So, they went about acquiring the machines and naturally invited suppliers to bid to supply. They proceeded to pick the best deals they could get.

Said the clerk of parliament,

It is during these processes that two companies were cleared as meeting the set criteria including the lowest price submissions payable in local currency

Clerk of Parliament, Kennedy Chokuda

They went with one supplier for laptops and another for desktops. The Parliament needed 173 laptops and 79 desktop computers so the exercise was not going to be cheap.

Blinart Investments P/L got the laptop tender after offering to supply the 173 laptops for US$1,602,755.77. That translates to $9,200 per laptop. Apparently this was the best deal Parliament could get. I wonder how much those that didn’t get the tender were charging, probably well above $12,000 a pop.

On the desktop front, Mid-End Computers and Hardware won the tender to supply the 79 machines for just over $3000 each.

Outcry over the deals

There has been an outcry over these tenders. Politicians from across the political landscape are calling for heads to roll over this. It is not enough that the tenders were eventually rejected, how did they get past the first desk?

The Parly clerk says their due diligence processes indicated that the quoted prices were highly inflated. Thank goodness for those due processes. I hope the person who realised $9,200 for a laptop was ‘highly inflated’ got a raise. They saved the nation a lot of money.

Some are not convinced by the explanations we have gotten from the Parliament and the Finance ministry. Themba Mliswa, who is apparently now the chairman of the African Parliamentarians Network Against Corruption (APNAC), had one interesting observation.

The explanation by Parliament in its so-called press statement does not answer the pertinent question – why was the tender initially awarded to the two blacklisted companies on 26 August 2022 if it was cancelled on 9 August 2022, as Parliament claims in its Press Statement…

Why did the Ministry of Finance and Economic Development have to write to Parliament on 14 September 2022 blacklisting the two companies and stating that their bids are heavily inflated if Parliament had cancelled the same tender?

Themba Mliswa as quoted by NewZimbabwe

The math doesn’t add up. It is obvious that someone is trying to wiggle out of this embarrassing affair.

We still don’t know what is going to happen to the people that authorised the deal before it was exposed and cancelled. What we know is that the two companies above have been banned from any future government procurement processes.

Were we quick to cry ‘corruption?’

A maxed out 16 inch Macbook Pro will set you back $6,600. That’s $6,600 before shipping and taxes. With free shipping and 40% duty that shoots up to $9,240 before the supplier factors in their own markup. So, if Blinart was supplying maxed out Macbook Pros they are actually patriots, selling laptops to Parliament for small losses.

Of course, then we would have questions on why the Parliament was buying maxed out Macbook Pros. Either way, when $9,200 laptops are involved something stinks to high heaven.

What do you think about all this? We all know that this is but one story of the government’s procurement processes being abused. Similar shenanigans happen so often it may as well be adopted as policy. I still have not gotten over the fact that we misplaced US$15 billion at one point. Hence why I’m not surprised some ‘buyer’ tried to make a quick buck.

Should we introduce something drastic like hand amputation for anyone caught doing stuff like this? That would deter a few ‘buyers’ from approving of inflated quotations. If not the hand thing, then something else of equal deterrence quality.

Am I optimistic that anything will come from this? Honestly, no. I’m only glad we caught one and that’s all I can hope for.

PS: this article was typed on a sub-$1000 laptop. Apparently, we got the deal of the century on that purchase.

Also read:

The crazy drama behind the High Court ruling ZIMDEF’s SAP software tender is illegal

Basel Institute says Zimbabwe has high levels of corruption


Quick NetOne, Econet, And Telecel Airtime Recharge

22 thoughts on “Are the $9,200 laptops that the Zim parliament almost bought really overpriced?

  1. We need the company’s involved to tell us what kind of laptops the government wanted to buy so we can do the maths.
    P.S this was typed using a 100USD HP Stream 11 (Mini) second hand don’t judge.

      1. Would have wanted to do something similar with my 12 year old HP620, just that the Econet network was too slow for USB tethering.

  2. Hahaha
    Why would a parliament need MacBooks
    I’m sure they don’t even allow installations for Software which are used for parliament sessions

    1. The most complicated software those bastards will use is Microsoft word for their meetings. A $300 dollar dual core will do for those lazy, old buzzards.

    2. Now that i’ve percolated on this for a bit, it’s not as ridiculous as it sounds. MacOs’ nannies are harder to turn off. They might just be the ultimate Gov Chief computer straight out of the box!

  3. I think the main requirements for laptops for parliamentarians, is capability for web-browsing, emailing, wordprocessing and FaceBook. They don’t need a high end laptops at all. $600 Chromebooks can do that stuff. It begs the question who is the computer expert who consulted on the requirements and the specifications of the tender? Does parliament have in-house expertise in computers or even a competent contractor doing their computer stuff, who is able to produce a competent tender document that would become a national embarrassment?

  4. To be the devil’s advocate for 1 second, I can see this possibly being a thing if these machines had a requirement for hardware biometrics (infrared and fingerprints) and some kind of software suite for management and security + full replacement warranty. Still, even with all that its a tough sell at even half the price! this is all just sus

  5. MPs should stop getting “free” things. Had they been required to even pay 10% of the purchase cost, since they keep the laptops afterwards, I doubt the tender would have been approved.

    It’s also hard to understand why we are buying laptops for MPs with less than a year left to elections. The fresh crop of MPs, next year, will also want another set of new laptops. Sadly, even those that may have been serving in the current, will be getting another new laptop. Perhaps it was a benefit, that was supposed to have been received long ago.

    I recall MPs once requested iPads to “execute their duties”. After receiving them, noone ever brought them to parly. Yet, here we are again, throwing in a laptop too!

    1. 1st, what do you want to do with it? Do you want to be an office productivity ninja? A digital artist? A simulation guru?
      2nd, what software do you need to accomplish what you want to do? If you look it up, that software will usually list the bare minimum and the ideal specifications it requires to perform.
      3rd, your budget. When you know your system requirements, your budget will determine where you can compromise and still get as close to your requirements as possible. For instance, some software performance is heavily dependant on hard drive speed and free space whilst others lean more on powerful graphics. Your budget will determine where you can take a hit.

      There is also some general knowledge you have to grasp so that you don’t get conned:
      – CPU generations: a third generation i7 IS NOT EQUAL TO an eleventh generation i7!
      – Windows 11 compatibility: Windows 11 has some hardware requirements that exclude some older CPU’s. Yes, you will see older machines out there with windows 11 installed, but those machines will not be able to update the normal way
      – What is an SSD: Sales people will be sales people and they may try to misdirect you about hardware. The hard drive is an easy target for this, with most people not knowing how to check if they have a traditional hard drive (slow) an SSD (fast) or a hybrid drive (fast until it is slow), let alone the differences between them.
      – Discrete VS Integrated graphics: Integrated graphics processors are the most common in laptops. They can handle most basic things like running an extra display of modest resolution and light games. They can cut into your available RAM. Discrete graphics processors (GPU) are a separate part from the CPU. They are usualy more powerful and come with their own memory (VRAM). Just about every laptop with them will proudly display it with a sticker with their brand (Nvidia or AMD/ATI). You can figure out which one you need in step 2 above.
      -Learn how to look up basic system info: This is so you can roughly verify what you are being sold is actually whats in the box.

      All of these points can be looked up on youtube in simple to understand clips. This channel does a great job with a lot of these and more https://www.youtube.com/c/Techquickie/featured

  6. Those laptops where probably 900 USD, but the first office wanted a cut of 500, then the next office wanted a cut of 1000 USD, then the other office wanted 2000, and finally the price was where it was. Someone was probably not happy with his cut.

  7. I have a friend in the government with high end work laptop its an hp 15″ screen
    16gig ram
    1tb rom
    And a 2 gig dedicated for video

    Bt to go more than $1200 brand new i doubt
    Because remember its zero duty plus tax cut on these tenders

    Bt hey its Zimbabwe we hire 5buses to go and open a single borehole 🤣🤣

  8. will not be suprised if the purchase goes on with jus a different company name bt same directors etc. obviously this is not the first one, jus that either someone was cut out of the deal and was bitter and exposed or someone came across the letter and decided to show all.

  9. It amazes me that the corruption involved stems that far.If it wasn’t for a company which offered usd2500 no one would have even cared.I wonder how much the government is forking out for vehicles and other even more expensive things.

  10. These laptops are cheap. If you factor in that the exchange rate used by min of finance is half the real rate then you get to $4500. Factor in forward pricing then you get much lower than that.

    See govt tenders don’t work like clock work. So when pricing one needs to factor in the delays in tender award plus eventual delays in payment. In our hyperinflationary environment the risk analysis is beyond many. So just throw the figures.
    Also note that interest rates are 120% per month! Saka order finace ma one.

    1. Zvauri kutaura zvakafanana nekutenga phone ye100 kumba kusina hupfu zvinoita here how will u explain such stupidity to yo wife.
      Thats the same the gvt failed to explain why are they going for such expencive laptops

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