Covid-19 corruption: KZN premier promises lifestyle audits, pre-audits for all procurement

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  • KwaZulu-Natal Premier Sihle Zikalala has presented a procurement disclosure report to the media.
  • He vowed there would be lifestyle audits and pre-audits for procurement in the future.
  • He, however, continued to defend the ANC, saying the party was committed to transparency and integrity.

KwaZulu-Natal Premier Sihle Zikalala has promised lifestyle audits, procurement pre-audits and action against corrupt officials, as government departments come under fire over rampant looting during Covid-19.

"We made a commitment that we will evaluate some of the contracts, even before they are in a queue. We are now doing that with regard to Covid-19 but, going forward, this must continue. Pre-auditing must continue going forward," Zikalala said.

Speaking at the eThekwini Disaster Management Centre in Durban, Zikalala presented a procurement disclosure report to media. The 16-page report gives a detailed description of Covid-19 procurement in all provincial government departments.

In it, Zikalala revealed there had been nearly R3 billion in expenditure funds used throughout the province by 27 July. Of this, municipalities spent R925 271 000 and public entities spent R4 million while the remaining nearly R2 billion came from provincial departments.

ALSO READ | KZN department squanders nearly R30-million irregularly on protective gear and blankets

About 57% of the nearly R2 billion spent by provincial departments was for infrastructure, something Zikalala said would benefit the province in the long term.

He said that eThekwini Metro was the highest spending municipality, accounting for nearly half a billion rand in Covid-19 expenditure.

"This is due to eThekwini Metro being the biggest municipality in the province and being the hotspot of Covid-19 infections."

Glaring discrepancies

The procurement report showed glaring discrepancies, with some government departments spending less than others on hand sanitisers.

Zikalala said various departments would have to deal with their procurement issues.

"It's what can be followed with departments. There is a fixed price that has been put in place and we are expecting that all departments follow that."

READ| R24m catering tender case: CFO, officials in KZN Premier Zikalala's office granted bail

When asked if any contractors were established just for Covid-19, Zikalala said that should not be the case.

"We are expecting that all of these contracts were awarded to companies that were on the database. It would be too strange if there was any company that was not in the database. We are expecting companies that were existing, not companies established solely for Covid-19."

He added: "Once we establish that there were one or two established for Covid-19, we are going to take action."

Defending the ANC

When News24 asked Zikalala about alleged corruption on the part of the ANC's deployed officials, he said this was a generalisation and went on to defend the party.

"Corruption is systemic and can affect any government, so don't say it is ANC corruption and say to us, what are we doing? We have managed transparency. That is what we are doing now. If people are wrong, let them be disciplined. The ANC has not mandated people to do wrong things.

"We are here to present this report with a great commitment to preserve integrity, caring governance and a government that is responsible and transparent."

The report comes after Zikalala announced R30-million worth of procurement irregularities in the Department of Social Development headed by MEC Nonhlanhla Khoza. The MEC has since put the most senior officials in the department on suspension. 

Zikalala's own department, the office of the premier, has faced a catering scandal that also saw officials suspended and arrested. 

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