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PPE corruption: Mboweni must issue Treasury instruction for open tenders, say DA

6 August 2020 9:00 AM
Tags:
Treasury
COVID-19
PPE
PPE procurement

DA Finance Shadow Minister Geordin Hill-Lewis says both the DA and Cosatu warned govt as early as May that graft was inevitable.

Rampant corruption linked to lucrative contracts for the production and supply of PPE has constrained South Africa's fight to control the Covid-19 pandemic.

On Wednesday at briefing of the standing and select committees on finance, Finance Minister Tito Mboweni ended the emergency procurement process for Personal Protective Equipment and related protective clothing and it appears government suppliers will be used in the interim.

All details of PPE contracts including all the bidders who tendered would need to be published in an open tender process.

The DA's Shadow Minister for Finance Geordin Hill-Lewis, talks to Refilwe Moloto about Finance Minister Tito Mboweni's measures to deal with rampant corruption linked to Covid-19 PPE production and supply contracts.

I think Treasury is a little bit late to take action on it.

Geordin Hill-Lewis, Finance Shadow Minister - DA

Aside from the Democratic Alliance raising concerns about the PPE procurement process since May he says Cosatu noted in its presentation on Wednesday that it had warned Treasury as far back as April that this corruption was inevitable - and proactive action should be taken to stop it.

Sadly, Treasury is now taking reactive action, but better late than never.

Geordin Hill-Lewis, Finance Shadow Minister - DA

Will the open tender process help?

It will certainly be a huge stumbling block in the way of the 'rapacious hyenas' which are the words I think he used. It certainly will make it much harder. It won't stop it because even with the open tender process all over government is much abused, but it is much more difficult to abuse.

Geordin Hill-Lewis, Finance Shadow Minister - DA

The emergency tender regulations were a big part of the problem, he says.

Hill-Lewis says while Mboweni has said that all Covid-19 tenders need to publish all details of bidders, the finance minister has the power in terms of the Public Finance Management Act to issue a Treasury instruction for all provincial governments, state entities and departments, but has not yet done so.

The DA will keep pushing for a date on which this will be done. he adds.

That transparency will also make a big difference as everyone can then see exactly who these companies are that are getting the contract.

Geordin Hill-Lewis, Finance Shadow Minister - DA

He suggests the minister has not issued the instruction because of resistance from some provinces.

This resistance needs to be overcome and Mboweni needs to issue a nationwide instruction to disclose all of those contracts.

Geordin Hill-Lewis, Finance Shadow Minister - DA

This resistance is a problem, he acknowledges.

There is a culture of an aversion to accountability in the governing party that is exactly the problem here.

Geordin Hill-Lewis, Finance Shadow Minister - DA

While theoretically, he says it would be better to end emergency procurement processes, there are cases where the situation warrants a legitimate emergency procedure.

In fact, this is probably a case of a legitimate emergency ...the normal tender process is very lengthy and time-consuming to try to reduce corruption, but it can take six months.

Geordin Hill-Lewis, Finance Shadow Minister - DA

Listen to the interview below:


6 August 2020 9:00 AM
Tags:
Treasury
COVID-19
PPE
PPE procurement

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