THERE are growing calls for President Cyril Ramaphosa to expand the commitment made for transparency on state procurement regarding the flood relief funds to all facets of government and state-owned enterprises (SOEs).
On Tuesday, Ramaphosa, while addressing a joint sitting of Parliament, said measures were being taken to strengthen accountability, including the National Treasury and the Auditor-General conducting audits on the emergency flood relief funds.
“To improve monitoring and ensure greater transparency, the details of all disaster-related procurement by public institutions will be published on the Treasury website to allow public scrutiny of these transactions.”
On Freedom Day, Ramaphosa said the vision of a free country had been tarnished by acts of corruption and state capture.
“For some in positions of responsibility, the pursuit of self-enrichment was more important than improving the lives of the people,” he said.
Ramaphosa’s promises of transparency and accountability have been welcomed but calls are growing for these mechanisms to cover all spheres of government, from municipal to provincial and national.
DA MP Cilliers Brink, who focuses on Co-operative Governance and Traditional Affairs, said publishing the details of government tenders and expenditure is already a legislative requirement.
“Municipal law, for instance, requires these details to be published on the website of municipalities. So this is not in fact an innovation. Of course we welcome it if the National Treasury can take a more proactive role to ensure the integrity and regularity of the info. But what you really need is to spot irregularities before money is expended.”
Brink said the ad hoc oversight committee must meet on a regular basis, and use the full powers of the rules of the National Assembly.
“This includes the power to subpoena anyone.”
UDM leader Bantu Holomisa said: “I hope this (measure) will extend to all government departments. That will help (to see) whether tenders are not being monopolised by companies belonging to comrades and their parties,” Holomisa said, adding that this should be extended to all three tiers of government and to SOEs.
President of the IFP Velenkosini Hlabisa said: “Corruption should not only be fought when it comes to relief funds or special interventions but at all times government departments should follow a procurement process that is transparent and known to the public.”
NFP spokesperson Canaan Mdletshe said: “It is not enough to publish on a government website … it must be transparent enough so someone from a rural area will know what is happening. The majority of people don’t have access to the internet.”