State publishes Covid-19 contracts amid corruption fury

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Protection masks have become the centre of Covid-19 tender procurement
Protection masks have become the centre of Covid-19 tender procurement
Gallo Images / iStock


Government has published the names of all companies that won Covid-19-related tenders in a bid to crack down on corruption, making it the first country on the continent to do so.

The move comes as a graft scandal related to procurement of medical equipment that implicated staff in President Cyril Ramaphosa’s own office sullies the reputation of the ANC. Earlier this week, Ramaphosa wrote to ANC members, warning them that the allegations were tarnishing its image.

The list, released by the office of the chief procurement officer, details Covid-19 procurement information from all provinces, national departments and more than 70 public entities, according to a statement from the presidency on Wednesday. Ramaphosa told the departments earlier this month to submit any information on Covid-19-related tenders to a special ministerial team.

This measure is unprecedented, and a clear demonstration of government’s commitment to transparency and accountability when it comes to allegations of corruption
President Cyril Ramaphosa

Corruption allegations linked to Covid-19 procurement blew up about a month ago, when newspaper reports tied the husband of Ramaphosa’s spokesperson to a R125 million contract to supply the Gauteng health department with equipment. South Africa’s specialised crime unit has since started investigating potential impropriety in the awarding of 658 government contracts worth more than R5 billion.

On August 22, Ramaphosa sent an unprecedented seven-page letter to members of the ANC to warn against corruption, saying the party’s reputation was being undermined by officials who abused their positions for personal gain.

South Africa is not alone in having to deal with allegations that the political elite are making vast amounts of money during the public health crisis.

Polish Health Minister Lukasz Szumowski quit this month after media reports and opposition investigations into medical equipment procurement by his department.

South Africa has 615 701 confirmed cases of Covid-19 and 13 502 deaths. – Bloomberg


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