Covid-19 corruption: The political hyenas are never far from the door - Steenhuisen

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Interim DA leader John Steenhuisen.
Interim DA leader John Steenhuisen.
Photo: Nasief Manie
  • Interim DA leader John Steenhuisen says Covid-19 looters are like a pack of hyenas feeding off the helpless and needy.
  • Steenhuisen claims that with every major government contract "the political hyenasare never far from the door.
  • Minister in the Presidency Jackson Mthembu said the Cabinet will leave no stone unturned in strengthening controls around resources.

Interim DA leader John Steenhuisen has likened those accused of Covid-19 corruption to a pack of heartless hyenas feeding off a helpless, dying springbok.

On Tuesday, MPs debated a Steenhuisen-sponsored debate around Covid-19 corruption in the National Assembly.

"Mr President, you may have been 'shocked' that your party could plumb such depths of depravity. But we weren't shocked. Because we'd seen this movie before, with the arms deal, former president Mandela's funeral, state capture and other grand-scale theft by connected cronies. Every time there is a big government procurement, the political hyenas are never far from the door," Steenhuisen said.

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He added the DA, from the outset, had pushed hard for Covid-19 accountability mechanisms to be put in place even during the lockdown.

The Special Investigating Unit (SIU) told Parliament last week of the R15.6 billion total Covid-19 expenditure between April and August, R10.5 billion was under investigation.

Of the R10.5 billion under investigation, around R223 million is currently in the Special Tribunal to set aside contracts and recover losses.

Minister in the Presidency Jackson Mthembu said the Cabinet remained resolved to leave no stone unturned in strengthening controls around resources.

"Cabinet further affirmed the independence of law enforcement agents and that they must execute their duties to our nation without prejudice, fear or favour as custodians of the laws of our country.

"As reported to the Standing Committee on Public Accounts by the Hawks, significant progress has been made to ensure that every cent stolen is recovered," Mthembu added.

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He said the ANC government had taken firm action to deal decisively with the problems of corruption, state capture and related misconduct.

"This includes instituting measures to allow for prosecution in cases where there is prima facie evidence of wrongdoing at the Zondo commission of inquiry into allegations of state capture. We are responding to the demand of society to spare no effort in uprooting corruption in the public service, the corporate sector and within society in general."

EFF MP Omphile Maotwe said Parliament had become a spectator to rampant corruption.

"All the signs were there. We wrote to all ministers to demand transparency around Covid-19 monies. Corruption has collapsed the government's ability to respond to the pandemic," she added.

FF Plus leader and MP Pieter Groenewald said the president knew of the corruption and he should take action.

"The Justice Minister [Ronald Lamola] spoke recently of the political will … why did the ANC not have the political will to investigate past corruption matters? The president was part of that the ANC. We need a unit to deal with corruption decisively otherwise the corruption will continue at the expense of the poorest of the poor," he added.

GOOD MP Shaun August said: "Corruption doesn't just bleed the country of its resources, but also its energy and hope for a better future."

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