- The Eastern Cape government has decided to publish details of Covid-19 procurement in the province.
- According to the province's Finance MEC Mlungisi Mvoko, as of 22 July, all provincial departments and public entities procured Covid-19-related items valued at R1 199 708 905.01.
- Almost R200 million was set aside for gowns alone, which was the top valued item for procurement.
The Eastern Cape government has taken a decision to publish details relating to Covid-19 procurement and said it had already procured goods to the value of about R1.2 billion in the province.
In a statement on Monday, Eastern Cape Finance MEC Mlungisi Mvoko said the decision to publish details around the procurement was done to maintain accountability, transparency and ethical behaviour.
Allegations of fraud and corruption during the Covid-19 pandemic have cropped up around the country.
Mvoko explained that due to the nature of Covid-19, National Treasury was forced to relax some regulations to allow for the expedient procurement of supplies, such as personal protective equipment (PPE), needed to fight the pandemic.
"Departments were in that regard afforded an opportunity to conduct procurement without pre-approval by provincial treasuries, although they are required to submit reports periodically on cases that are above R1 million," Mvoko said.
These processes have since come under attack as multiple reports surfaced of "suppliers" allegedly defrauding the state. There have also been several allegations of politically connected people scoring Covid-19 tenders.
Value of orders placed for Covid-19-related supplies
According to the MEC, as of 22 July, the province, with all of its departments and public entities, procured Covid-19-related items to the total value of R1 199 708 905.01.
Mvoko said of the total amount, R1 191 685 986.95 related to orders placed by departments, while R8 022 916.06 million related to orders placed by entities.
Top commodities procured
In the Eastern Cape, the top items procured included gowns, thermometers, N95 masks and sanitisers.
- Gowns: R197 323 727
- Digital body thermometers: R185 516 761
- Masks – N95: R141 100 703
- Sanitisers: R127 804 737
- Gloves – surgical and examination: R93 802 530
- Disinfectant: R67 401 198
- Mountable industrial soap sanitiser: R43 159 389
- Hospital beds: R28 447 437
Mvoko said although the work done around Covid-19 was mainly to protect lives, they were happy about the economic spin-offs to support local businesses and livelihoods in the Eastern Cape.
"There were 611 service providers appointed for mainly PPE related procurement. In these orders the province made an endeavour to apply the local economic development framework, which culminated to 497 (73%) of awards to Eastern Cape based suppliers to the tune of R 875 419 146.29."
Upgrading of existing health facilities
The MEC said the Eastern Cape government embarked on a programme for the repair, renovation and refurbishment of various health facilities across the province and by 22 July, a total of 83 projects to the value of more than R582 million had been awarded.
"A total of 79 contracts, which constitutes 95.2%, were awarded to Eastern Cape based service providers to a total value of R525 089 980.85," Mvoko said.
Covid-19 investigation update
Mvoko added that while information relating to Covid-19 procurement had been published, the province was in the middle of an investigation by the provincial Treasury relating to all procurement during the pandemic.
"Our plan is to start providing reports on the completed investigation starting by end of August 2020."
"We must also indicate that similar mandates have also been given to the Auditor-General of South Africa and the Special Investigation Unit, with immediate focus being to identify the transactions that are additional to normal procurement for review.
"We are also coordinating with other law enforcement agencies to avoid duplication. Our investigation will however ensure that all transactions triggered by Covid-19 in the province will be reviewed for compliance with prescripts."
The MEC said a detailed report would be released on the provincial Treasury's website on Monday. It was not yet certain if that report would include the details of the suppliers who were awarded contracts.
Since the start of the pandemic, the Eastern Cape has been plagued by issues surrounding the state of hospitals, as well as a tender awarded for ambulance scooters that is now the subject of an investigation.
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