Government has acted to contain runaway abuse of the tender system during the Covid-19 coronavirus by declaring that government departments will no longer be allowed to handpick personal protective equipment (PPE) suppliers.
National Treasury has committed that bidding for PPE will be ordered to return to open tender processes.
This is according to a Treasury presentation tabled by Finance Minister Tito Mboweni and director-general Dondo Mogajane during a meeting with Parliament’s finance committees from the National Assembly and the National Council of Provinces.
This comes after shocking revelations of alleged corruption linked to multibillion-rand spending made headlines.
The awarding of PPE tenders to politically connected people such as the sons of ANC secretary-general Ace Magashule, the daughter of former Gauteng premier Nomvula Mokonyane and to the husband of President Cyril Ramaphosa’s spokesperson Khusela Diko, Thandisizwe Diko, has raised eyebrows.
“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 is to be sought for any amount above the absolute price.
“Institutions are to provide Treasury with the names of all PPE and protective clothing appointed service providers for publishing on the Treasury website and analysing aggregated data across all procuring agencies,” reads the presentation.
On Wednesday, Cosatu called on government to move with speed to halt the rot in the procurement of PPE.
Cosatu parliamentary coordinator Matthew Parks said the state should immediately centralise the public procurement of PPE for the entire country under the Treasury.
Parks suggested that government should only award PPE procurement contracts to local and legally compliant manufacturers.
He added that government should publish the details of all PPE contracts awarded by the state and ban politicians and their immediate families from state tenders.
The labour federation urged government to send a message to the public that it was serious about tackling the cancer of corruption.
“Cosatu has repeatedly raised with the government and publicly the massive loopholes in the public procurement of PPE,” Parks said.
He also said that government should exercise the full powers of the Public Audit Amendment Act to hold offending politicians and officials personally financially liable for corruption and wasteful expenditure under their watch.
Cosatu also called for the removal of officer bearers whose departments are implicated in corruption and wasteful expenditure, and the establishment of rapid response courts to tackle such cases.
Tender fraud and corruption relating to the procurement of PPE was top of the agenda at an ANC national executive committee meeting this past weekend.
The party’s top brass is supporting President Cyril Ramaphosa’s call for a full investigation.