In South Africa, a new ministerial committee will look at all corruption allegations to help law enforcement agencies, and the information will be made public. Claudi Mailovich reports
Premiers of provincial governments and ministers will have to provide information about tenders awarded during South Africa’s state of disaster to a committee of ministers appointed to look into allegations of corruption, said the South African presidency on August 6 2020.
The cabinet decided the day before to appoint the committee to deal with the allegations associated with South Africa’s response to the coronavirus pandemic.
The decision comes in the same week in which both President Cyril Ramaphosa and the ANC’s national executive committee have called for harsh measures for those profiting from the disaster.
“The cabinet’s decision reinforces the determination of the president, expressed in a national address on July 23 2020, that there should be no theft, no wastage and no mismanagement of public funds as the country fights Covid-19,” the presidency said.
Ramaphosa warned then that there would be severe consequences for those who break the law — whether it be public or private sector players. South Africa has been governed under a state of disaster since late March, during which time it has been in various phases of a strict lockdown.
There have been a number of exposés of corrupt activities relating to procurement during the state of disaster. The most notable being tenders for the procurement of personal protective equipment (PPE).
This has seen both the president’s spokesperson Khusela Diko, and Bandile Masuku, member of the executive committee (MEC) for health in the Gauteng provincial government, take a leave of absence pending investigations by the Special Investigating Unit (SIU).
In a statement released on Thursday, the presidency said the committee will be chaired by justice and correctional services minister Ronald Lamola. The other members of the committee include finance minister Tito Mboweni; minister in the presidency Jackson Mthembu; minister of police Bheki Cele; minister of public service and administration Senzo Mchunu; and the minister of co-operative governance and traditional affairs Nkosazana Dlamini-Zuma.
Lamola said the committee is not replacing the job done by the law enforcement agencies, but will contribute information to them. The committee will look into corruption in the procurement of goods and services sourced for the purpose of containing and responding to the Covid-19 pandemic.
“To assist the committee in its assessment of coronavirus-related procurement, President Ramaphosa has requested all ministers and premiers to provide information on the names of companies, and details of tenders and contracts that have been awarded in national departments, provincial governments and public entities during the period of the national state of disaster,” the presidency said.
Lamola said all government departments will also be expected to submit their procurement contracts awarded during this period to the ministerial team to be published and made accessible to the public.
Last week, the Western Cape provincial government, which is governed by the DA, released the first independent procurement disclosure report related to PPE procured in response to the pandemic.
The presidency said Ramaphosa has directed that these lists be provided to the committee of ministers as a matter of urgency this week, after which the committee will prepare a comprehensive report that the president intends to release as public information.
The presidency said the decision will support other measures taken to detect corrupt activities, including Ramaphosa’s proclamation, which provided that the SIU can look into any unlawful or improper conduct in the procurement of any goods, works and services during or related to the national state of disaster in any state institution.
This article first appeared in Business Day