Responding to an oral question in the National Assembly on Thursday, President Cyril Ramaphosa said the government’s moves to combat COVID-related corruption will leave no room for misuse of “public funds”.
“This is a turning point to begin a new era of transparency and accountability in procuring of goods and services by public entities,” said the President.
“The actions we are taking will lead to public procurement reforms that will make sure that we find solutions to many problems related to public procurement, including corruption, and that the government doesn’t spend too much money for goods and services and gets value for money.”
At the start of his interactions with the National Assembly, President Ramaphosa expressed his respect – also on behalf of the National Executive – for the MPs who have passed away in the past weeks and months.
The president noted these are tough times for the nation as many families have lost loved ones for COVID-19 and other causes including the ongoing pandemic. Families cannot mourn and honour those who follow the desired path.
Public procurement of COVID-19
Ramaphosa said the alleged corruption in the delivery of goods and services in response to the corona virus pandemic in our country has caused anger among South Africans and the Executive.
“It is a shame that at this time of national crisis companies and individuals trying to exploit crime in our efforts to protect human health and save lives.
As a government, we have taken steps not only to expose, investigate and prosecute these crimes but also to step up measures to prevent corrupt activities. Said the President of the National Assembly.
To achieve this goal, President Ramaphosa said, “I have authorised the Special Investigations Unit (SIU) to investigate suspected misuse of COVID-19 funds in regions of the country.”
He said SIU’s work runs parallel to the work of an established special coordination center called the Fusion Center to strengthen joint efforts of law enforcement agencies to prevent, detect, investigate and prosecute COVID-related corruption.
Ramaphosa said the state treasury had taken effective steps to tighten government procurement rules. These steps will enhance the Auditor General’s ongoing work on real-time reviews of COVID costs.
“The greatest defense against corruption in government procurement is to make the entire process more transparent and open to public scrutiny.
As an important first step in achieving this goal, the Cabinet assembled a team of ministers to prepare and compare a comprehensive report listing the bids and contracts made by national services, provincial governments and other agencies in response to the pandemic. Corona virus.”
Earlier this week, said Ramaphosa, the Ministry of Finance began posting opinions from various government departments and institutions on its website.
So far, 95% of provincial, national and government departments have provided all the information to the ministerial team to buy Covid-19.
“This initiative is unprecedented in the history of our country and allows the public to have detailed information on how public funds are being spent. We believe this is an important precedent for future spending.”
He said this was a turning point, marking the start of a new era of transparency and accountability in the procurement of goods and services by public institutions.
The actions we take will inevitably lead to public procurement reforms that will ensure that we find solutions to many public procurement problems, including corruption, and that governments do not overpay or get value for goods and services.
The president said the role of the SIU is to investigate the Covid-19-related orders, and said a team of cabinet ministers would seek details of the COVID-related orders from any government department so it could publish them, to promote transparency and accountability.
“This process is unfamiliar and not related to SIU’s job to investigate illegal or inappropriate behaviour in the procurement of goods and services in public facilities. SIU has not asked the cabinet to help draft the details of the COVID alert and the contract.”
According to the statement signed on July 23, the president said SIU had the authority to investigate alleged abuse of the COVID-19 agent across the country.
If SIU finds evidence that someone has committed a crime, the unit will turn it over to prosecutors.
“The courts will start civil proceedings to compensate the state for damages or losses.” The government will ensure that criminal activity related to our response to the COVID-19 pandemic is exposed, and I bring those responsible to justice,” added the President.