Mboweni puts brakes on PPE emergency procurement to curb corruption

Image credit: Twitter/South African Government

The National Treasury has stopped emergency procurement of COVID-19 personal protective equipment (PPE) in a bid to curb corruption.

In a briefing to Parliament on Wednesday, Finance Minister Tito Mboweni and National Treasury Director-General Dondo Mogajane said government entities will now revert to the normal open tender system.

Corruption allegations

This follows widespread reports of alleged corruption and irregularities, especially in Gauteng, Eastern Cape and KwaZulu-Natal provinces. Family members of ANC provincial and local leaders have also reportedly won tenders.

Gauteng Health MEC Bandile Masuku, his wife Loyiso Masuku, who is also an MMC in Johannesburg, and President Cyril Ramaphosa’s spokesperson Khusela Diko have stepped aside from their positions pending investigations.

The Sunday Independent reported recently that Diko’s husband, King Madzikane II Diko, was awarded a R125 million PPE tender by the Gauteng provincial department. 

Diko maintains that the tender was cancelled without any payments to Royal Bhaca Projects. The Dikos and Masukus, who are reportedly close family friends, have denied allegations of wrongdoing.

Reports also emerged that Magashule’s two sons, former Minister Nomvula Mokonyane’s daughter and Deputy Minister Thembi Siweya’s cousin received similar contracts from the Free State, Gauteng and Limpopo governments respectively. They have similarly denied involvement or wrongdoing.

Emergency procurement ended

Documents from Treasury’s briefing stated, “Emergency procurement for PPE and protective clothing is ended and institutions revert to open procurement processes. Procurement must be compliant with all existing instructions for procurement.

“National Treasury will lock an absolute price for all PPE and listed protective clothing procurement. Permission to be sought for any amount above the absolute price.

“Institutions to provide National Treasury with the names of all PPE and protective clothing appointed service providers for publishing on the National Treasury website and analysing aggregated data across all procuring agencies.”

Mboweni accused government officials of failing to follow Treasury’s emergency procurement guidelines thus allowing corruption to thrive.

“It would appear that there is a prima facie case that not in all instances was the Treasury instruction followed. It is now up to law enforcement agencies to follow up on that which was done wrong to ensure that the culprits are brought to book,” he said.

Mboweni added that he will ask MECs in a meeting on Thursday (6 August) to publish all contracts issued, “who the competitors were and on what basis the losing companies lost. We are also interested in the age of the companies.”

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