Member’s statement: EC must establish a PPE procurement register

Issued by Retief Odendaal, MPL
Shadow MEC for Finance

The Eastern Cape has experienced severe backlash due to excessive allegations of corruption surrounding its Covid-19 PPE procurement.

When the Special Investigating Unit (SIU) briefed Parliament’s Scopa on 20 October 2020, it revealed that it was investigating 930 service providers with suspicious contracts. However, this figure was described as a moving target at the time.

The total Covid-19 expenditure was R15.6 billion, while R10.5 billion of this total was being investigated by the SIU. That amounts to 67% of the total Covid-19 procurement expenditure.

R9.7 billion was made available to provinces to provide Covid-19 relief measures. Allegations of malfeasance and misappropriation plagued these measures.

Gauteng lead with R4.3 billion in PPE contracts under investigation, followed by the Eastern Cape with R1.9 billion in PPE contracts also under investigation.

Our province should be deeply ashamed of this revelation. It is an indictment on the province’s ability to provide clean governance.

Stronger measures must be put in place in the Eastern Cape to combat irregular procurement in the province. There is a need for interventions in the early detection of corruption which must be proceeded by a coordinated response from law enforcement entities to ensure quick and efficient investigation, prosecution, and the recovery of funds.

In a display of commitment to good governance and transparency, the Western Cape Provincial Treasury produced a Procurement Disclosure Report to ensure transparency in procurement within the Western Cape. To date, there have been five monthly publications of the report.

The document allows for the summary report on all Covid-19 procurement expenditure by collecting data from various sources and compiling it into one report in order to provide accurate and credible information which is user-friendly and accessible.

This is not a once-off report, hon Premier, it is updated regularly, so that the public can see what is being spent on an ongoing basis, not just those who were first in the queue.

Monthly reporting on all Covid-19 procurement expenditure is made available via the National Treasury Covid-19 dashboard with a summary report provided by Western Cape Provincial Treasury.

The Provincial Treasury Report is invaluable in creating safeguards against corruption by providing a platform where procurement can be tracked in real-time. It also ensures that the provincial government is accountable to the people.

Noting that the Eastern Cape has been flagged only as second to Gauteng in Covid-19 procurement cases that warrant investigation, it is important for the Provincial Treasury to adopt the intervention championed by the Western Cape.

Our province must adopt a Procurement Disclosure Report to provide a platform for interested parties to access procurement data through this report and strengthen oversight measures and ensure good governance.