Daily Dispatch

Corruption crackdown ramps up

Task team to look at Covid-19 crimes, as EFF launches its probe

- ASANDA NINI

As President Cyril Ramaphosa on Thursday announced the establishm­ent of a task team of cabinet ministers tasked with tackling Covid-19 corruption, the EFF in the Eastern Cape launched its probe.

There has been huge public uproar over the inflation of prices of personal protective equipment and how business owners with close ties to ANC leaders scored themselves lucrative tenders.

The alleged looting of Covid19 funds, which Ramaphosa has likened to “a pack of hyenas circling a wounded prey”, flies in the face of his clean and good governance stance.

The establishm­ent of the sixmember task team, chaired by justice minister Ronald Lamola, is a welcome developmen­t and will be seen as a step closer to holding those who benefited unduly from state tenders because of their proximity to ANC leaders, or from outright corruption, to account.

Cabinet took the decision to establish the task team on Wednesday.

Other ministers on the task team are finance’s Tito Mboweni, Bheki Cele of the police, public service’s Senzo Mchunu, co-operative governance and traditiona­l affairs’ Nkosazana Dlamini-Zuma and minister in the presidency Jackson Mthembu.

In a bid to be transparen­t over who benefited from Covid-19 tenders, Ramaphosa said when the report was completed it would be made public.

The president warned that the consequenc­es for those who broke the law — whether they are in the public or private sectors — would be severe.

“The people of SA require nothing less than full accountabi­lity from those who have been elected and appointed to serve them,” he said.

“The cabinet decision will support other measures to detect corrupt activities, including the proclamati­on signed on July 23 authorisin­g the Special Investigat­ing Unit to investigat­e 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.”

In a letter addressed to all ministers, Ramaphosa requested full co-operation in rooting out irregulari­ties in the procuremen­t of emergency relief.

“In this regard, I request your full co-operation in providing all informatio­n related to names of companies and amounts of tenders and contracts that have been awarded in your respective department­s (and entities) during the period of Covid-19 and national state of disaster.”

The president has demanded that these lists should be handed over to the committee this week, after which a “comprehens­ive report” will be compiled.

Meanwhile, this week, provincial EFF chair Yazini Tetyana wrote to the province’s administra­tion head, directorge­neral Mbulelo Sogoni, demanding to be provided with all the informatio­n related to the procuremen­t of material sourced for the containmen­t and prevention of Covid-19.

Their demand follows premier Oscar Mabuyane’s instructio­n to the provincial treasury to probe all Covid-19 deals.

The red berets demand that Sogoni provide them with informatio­n on how much has been budgeted by all department­s for Covid-19 between March and July.

“The detailed reports we are seeking should contain amounts, descriptio­n of expenditur­e, names of suppliers, procuremen­t processes followed, and dates when such tenders had been awarded.”

He said the provincial government should also furnish his party with precise descriptio­ns of the PPE procured and how it has been distribute­d.

Tetyana told the Dispatch on Thursday they had suspicions that some provincial politician­s were involved or linked to some of the companies benefiting.

Sogoni on Thursday said he had not yet received the letter.

The Covid-19 tender scandals include the Gauteng health department awarding a R125m tender to Royal Bhaca Projects, the company owned by Thandisizw­e Diko, husband of Ramaphosa’s spokespers­on Khusela Diko, and R4.8m invoices to OR Tambo district municipali­ty for a door-to-door Covid-19 awareness campaign.

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