President Cyril Ramaphosa has requested his Ministers to provide all information related to COVID-19 procurement in their respective departments.
The request is contained in a letter to the Ministers signed on Wednesday (5 August). In the letter, Ramaphosa said he had appointed an inter-ministerial committee to “deal with alleged corruption of all procurement, including personal protective equipment (PPE),” during the COVID-19 pandemic.
Justice and Correctional Services Minister Ronald Lamola will chair the committee. Other members include Finance Minister Tito Mboweni, Minister in the Presidency Jackson Mthembu, Police Minister Bheki Cele, Public Service and Administration Minister Senzo Mchunu, and Cooperative Governance and Traditional Affairs Minister Dr Nkosazana Dlamini-Zuma.
Ramaphosa to release information
Ramaphosa wrote, “In this regard, I request your full cooperation 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.
“These lists must be provided to the above committee as a matter of urgency this week. The committee will prepare a comprehensive report and I intend to release the information publicly.”
On Wednesday, Mboweni similarly told Parliament that he would ask Finance MECs across the country 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.”
Documents from Treasury’s briefing to Parliament also 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.”
These developments follow reports of alleged PPE corruption and contracts allegedly being awarded to family members and friends of public office bearers, especially in Gauteng, Eastern Cape and KwaZulu-Natal provinces.
Gauteng Health MEC Bandile Masuku, his wife Loyiso Masuku, who is also an MMC in Johannesburg, and Ramaphosa’s spokesperson Khusela Diko have stepped aside from their positions pending investigations.
The Sunday Independent reported recently that Diko’s husband, Thandisizwe Diko, was awarded a R125 million PPE tender by the Gauteng provincial department. He 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.
Ramaphosa signed a proclamation last month authorising a Special Investigating Unit (SIU) probe into all COVID-19 procurement across South Africa.