Shocking revelations in the Special Investigating Unit’s Report on Covid-19 procurement have shown the extent to which Eastern Cape government officials colluded with suppliers to loot state coffers.
These officials felt no shame as they helped themselves to funds meant to assist residents of the province during an unprecedented crisis. They have robbed residents of future opportunities.
In the Eastern Cape alone, contracts valued at over R2,9 billion are under investigation. There are 23 cases referred for disciplinary and executive action, and a further 34 referred to the National Prosecuting Authority.
It is not surprising that the two departments with the most cases under investigation are Health and Education.
Many allegations investigated by the SIU found that the procurement processes were followed, but in several cases, gross irregularities were found.
The report highlights how procurement processes were flaunted, how suppliers were paid for Personal Protective Equipment (PPE) that was never delivered, of sub-standard quality, or overpriced.
It also highlights blatant cases of fraud, corruption and money laundering, with senior officials at provincial and municipal levels implicated.
In one case, involving a contract of over R4 million, for PPE, it is alleged that the chief Director of the Supply Chain for the Education Department received a R328,000 kickback in the form of payment towards a motor vehicle purchase.
The Democratic Alliance welcomes the report and the steps taken by the SIU to date, to deal with these matters.
The DA is calling on Premier Oscar Mabuyane to ensure that his executive acts decisively on the recommendations made by the SIU and ensure that those guilty of offence are dealt with swiftly.
We cannot allow these rotten apples to remain in public service. They must be dismissed and where relevant, criminal cases must be opened. They have stolen from the people and must go to jail.
Suppliers implicated of wrongdoing in the report, need to be added to a provincial blacklist database and blocked from doing business with the government.
The DA has taken note of the various criminal and civil proceedings mentioned in the report and will be monitoring these cases closely.