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EDGAR Chibuta.

Relevance of solid leadership in procurement

THE relevance of strong or solid leadership in the Supply Chain Management (SCM) systems is a fact that can never be underestimated because leadership is that tower that is capable of solving relationships in any department, and thus, create harmony.The legal provisions of the Public Procurement Act (PPA 2008), under Section 11, gives clear insight on what constitutes the Procurement Entity and under Section 15(2) and Sec 16)1) of the cited Act, the procurement committee has a big role to play in the SCM so that goods and services procured are in line with the legal provisions of the land, and in line with the national and international procurement protocols.
The procurement committee, user department, the controlling officer(s) and the procurement unit are thus supposed to exhibit the highest level of solid leadership so that procurement debacles are strictly avoided and corporate governance practices are met.
According to section 16c of the PPA (2008), we have the procurement unit to provide secretarial and legal technical advice to the procurement committee as well as the user department, and that being the case, the latter, which is headed by the head procurement and secretary of the procurement committee, is supposed to play a pivotal role in ensuring that the procuring entity functions in accordance with the provisions of the cited creature of the law and Act of Parliament.
A well-coordinated procurement unit, formed to perform its duties in line with the Act of Parliament herein, is supposed to show leadership, through its leader or head of PSU, and authority so as to win the confidence of the stakeholders in the supply chain system of an organisation and later drive the latter in the right direction and right mood.
Because leadership plays a pivotal role in any organisation, the head of the procurement unit is supposed to be exceptional and of exceptional and noble character so as to bring about teamwork in the procuring entity.
Besides meeting the legal provision of being qualified and competent as the law dictates under section 12(2), such a one is supposed to be a good and trustworthy person, mature to the core and by and large full of virtuous and ready to promote teamwork without fear or favour.
Such a one is supposed to be down to earth and knowledgeable enough so that decision-making is not in any way impeded. Because the work of the PSU is to offer advice to the procurement committee, the user department and to the controlling officer, the work of the head of the PSU is that of fostering unity without leaving anyone behind.
A calm-free procurement unit environment is for sure not guaranteed as long as we walk this earth and bound to make mistakes as a result of our imperfection. However, what is cardinal for the head of the PSU is to ensure that in the midst of a heated environment, in which members of his procurement unit may find themselves, his or her role will be to calm the situation because failure to do so has the potential to destroy the peace under which the unit is expected to thrive on and benefit from it.
It is therefore probable that some grey areas that we have of late read about, such as the Enrollon and some grey areas as portrayed in the Zambian Auditor General’s report, can be attributed to the weakest links in the supply chain systems in units and departments such as the accounts and procurement brought about as a result of personal differences.
Differences in opinion in the procurement unit can have hefty adverse effects on the implementation of the organisational projects, goals and projects, and the earlier such differences are sorted out, the better for the full realisation of the set key performance indicators (KPIs).
In some procurement units, the differences may arise as a result of the failure by the procurement head to ensure that decisions are realised in fairness and for the benefit of all the members of the unit. Favouritism has the potential to destroy the unit.
The burden of command in leadership is a strong facet that calls for a steady and careful implementation of authority that has been bequeathed to you and doing so with a lot of care so that fairness and virtuousness is seen at play.
The main reason why the procurement unit has been created is to foster corporate governance and play an advisory role to other creatures and legal linkages in the SCM systems, and that being the case, we must be alive to the fact that our core duty is to provide that advisory role as a united force.
Additionally, it must be borne in mind that the Government is determined to ensure that corporate governance practices are put in place in a logical and systematic way as evidenced by the need to revise the Public Finance Act (1994).
Weak leadership linkages in the procurement unit has the potential to erode the gains accumulated in the promotion of corporate governance and can have adverse effect in the smooth implementation of the SCM systems.
Transparency and accountability will therefore sink to their all-time lower levels because the head of procurement will end up abusing his authority as the ‘father ‘ of unit and bulldoze the procurement using those he or she feels are his or her trusted ones or his or her lieutenants in crime.
Leaders who know it all have the potential to destroy the reputation of the profession and compromise the situation resulting in loss of trust to the outside world. Have you ever wondered why at one time procurement was perceived as a den of thieves?
Compromised leadership in the procurement SCM systems is, therefore, a big thorn in the flesh of each and every one of us and has the highest potential to divide the procurement unit into pieces.
No form of factions must be allowed to prevail in the procurement unit and that must be the primary goal of the head of procurement to bring unity of purpose to the unit if we are to take an organisation in the right direction.
I have seen leaders who have excelled to higher heights because of their tolerance to divergent professional views.
The author is purchasing and supply assistant in Chavuma.