Covid-19 corruption: Ramaphosa appoints Cabinet committee to deal with tenders

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President Cyril Ramaphosa.
President Cyril Ramaphosa.
  • President Cyril Ramaphosa has set up a Cabinet committee to deal with alleged procurement corruption.
  • The committee will comprise six Cabinet members, led by Justice Minister Ronald Lamola. 
  • Ramaphosa says he wants to make all information public about tenders issued by government departments. 

President Cyril Ramaphosa has appointed a six-member Cabinet committee to deal with all allegations of corruption related to Covid-19 procurement. 

In a leaked letter to ministers, Ramaphosa said following Wednesday's Cabinet meeting, he had appointed the committee which would be chaired by Justice Minister Ronald Lamola. 

Other members include Minister in the Presidency Jackson Mthembu, Finance Minister Tito Mboweni, Police Minister Bheki Cele, Public Service and Administration Minister Senzo Mchunu and Cooperative Governance and Traditional Affairs Minister Nkosazana Dlamini-Zuma. 

"In this regards, 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," Ramaphosa wrote in the letter.

"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 this information publicly".

READ | Covid-19 corruption: ANC NEC embarrassed by allegations, says public outrage is justified

In a statement released on Thursday, Ramaphosa's acting spokesperson Tyrone Seale said the committee will look into corruption with regard to the procurement of goods and services sourced for the purpose of containing and responding to the Covid-19 pandemic, and it includes the procurement of personal protective equipment (PPE). 

"To assist the committee in its assessment of Covid-19-related procurement, President Ramaphosa has requested all ministers and premiers to provide information on the names of companies and details of tenders and contracts that have been awarded in national departments, provincial governments and public entities during the period of the national state of disaster," he said. 

Ministers have to urgently comply with the directive this week, Ramaphosa's office said. 

"The committee will prepare a comprehensive report, which the president intends to release as public information".

Ramaphosa's bid to make all tenders related to Covid-19 procurement public comes as the government grapples with allegations of graft in what was meant to be a quick process to ensure that South Africa has a steady supply of personal protective equipment (PPE) as well as other goods and services during the pandemic.

There are a litany of reports of how family members and friends of politicians scored government contracts, how the state overpaid for goods, and how millions have been looted amid the state of disaster. 

Now, National Treasury has ended the emergency procurement process for PPE, and said it was back to business as usual for government suppliers.

Seale said the Cabinet decision reinforces Ramaphosa's determination that there should be no theft, no wastage and no mismanagement of public funds as the country fights Covid-19. 

"The president warned that the consequences for those who broke the law – whether they are in the public or private sectors – would be severe".

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