Kipchilat (2009) quoting a Comesa report (2004) argued that supplier selection has become one of the elementary roles of supply chain managers since it virtually affects an organization’s competitiveness. A huge chunk of the organization’s capital resources is spent on inventory hence it suffices to say; supply chain managers are expected to contract with suppliers who provide value for their money. Given the advent of long term supplier relationships that are viewed as business partnerships, it is also paramount to select suppliers who match the organization’s managerial alignment as they contribute to the overall performance of an organization. The dynamic rise in market volatility, dynamism and sophistication, has made managers quickly realize that regardless of their firms’ strength or product brand in the market they cannot succeed unless they partner up with quality suppliers whose ultimate focus is to fulfill the customer’s needs (Eaton, 2010).
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Beil and Ross (2009) argue that poor supplier selection criteria can cost the firm millions of loses due to recalls, warranty costs, and associated inventory adjustments, and have inflicted untold damage on their reputations and future sales potential. The public sector procurement in Zimbabwe has been characterized with inefficiency and ineffectiveness in the use of public funds and natural resources (Transparency International, 2010; World Bank 2010). This may have been caused by the sluggishness at which purchasing is being recognized as a profession (Chari, Chingarande, Mushanyuri & Karambakuwa 2013:146). Poor supplier selection practices at Manyame Air Base is costing the organisation thousands of losses due to poor contract discharge, non-delivery of services, and associated inventory adjustments. To avoid such dire consequences, it is paramount to have effective supplier selection preactices that help to identify top notch suppliers before awarding of contracts.
According to an audit carried by the Ministry of Defence (MOD) external auditors in 2016, noted that Compliance levels in procurement at Manyame Air Base were low as compared to the other Air Force Bases namely, Josiah Tungamirai and Josiah Ziyapapa Magama (JZM), despite efforts by the Air Force Headquarters to put in place measures to improve compliance. Manyame Air Base on its own initiative also tried to improve its procurement efforts by employing qualified personnel as well as engaging reputable companies which however resulted in insignificant results. The MOD audit report revealed that the overall compliance areas where Manyame Air Base (MAB) scored lowest were in record keeping, contract award and contract management thus negatively impacting on procurement performance. Furthermore, the MOD audit report observed that procurement malpractices during supplier selection like overpricing (buying at inflated prices), unstructured authorization of expenditure levels and lack of fairness and transparency amongst bidders are still rampant leaving the users decrying poor service delivery.
A research study is therefore needed to investigate and establish the effects of supplier selection criteria and factors that needs to be considered in selection of suppliers because of the role they play in the MOD entities. Furthermore, in spite of having various studies undertaken on supplier selection by various researchers, none of the studies have particularly addressed the effect of supplier selection criteria on procurement function performance in the AFZ. This study filled this gap by exploring the effects of supplier selection practices on procurement function performance at Manyame Air Base. Thus, if the supplier selection criteria currently in use at Manyame Air Base is not analysed to establish where the problem actually lies, the problems associated with bought out materials may continue and the organisation may completely fail to provide the expected service.