'No mercy for corrupt officials’ says KZN Premier after he orders lifestyle audits across provincial government departments
Durban - Members of the provincial legislature, departmental officials and supply chain managers will undergo lifestyle audits as a measure to fight corruption, Premier Sihle Zikalala announced yesterday, when he released a list of government contracts that had been awarded since the start of the Covid-19 pandemic.
Speaking at the launch of the KZN Covid-19 Procurement Disclosure Report, Zikalala said no mercy would be shown to those who were corrupt. He said the state should lead from the front in exposing corruption.
However, he cautioned that all the good work done by the government should not be demonised as a result of the actions of a few.
He said the government had observed that “in the public space there are sustained efforts to portray the government as corrupt and irresponsible, but it is committed to clean governance”.
“This is part of a long and bigger plan to characterise the government as wasteful. Some of these narratives are peddled without facts, and we hope that all the factual information we are releasing today will clear the air,” he said.
He added that claims of cadre deployment, which averred that the majority of contracts might have been affected by corrupt ANC officials, failed to acknowledge that the party was not in control of all municipalities.
“Corruption is systemic and it can affect any government. There is this narrative in this society to suggest the ANC is corrupt. Let’s deal with the corruption of politicians and officials and those who are corrupting public officials,” he said.
Zikalala said the Provincial Executive Committee had taken a decision “in the interests of transparency” to make public officials - from the premier and members of the executive council down to officials in supply chain management - undergo lifestyle audits.
He said the State Security Agency would co-ordinate the process with the SA Revenue Service.
“We expect in the next week or the following week we will give details in terms of time frames. We have been pushing for departments to work quickly, and you will notice we have done two investigations in (the department of) Social Development, and actions were taken. We are committed to clean governance as we are committed to radical economic transformation,” he said.
According to the report, the provincial government had spent a total of R2928738480 on Covid-19-related expenditure, of which provincial departments had spent a total of R1999465704, while municipalities and public entities spent R925271000 and R4001766, respectively.
The report includes a comprehensive breakdown of expenditure by each department, the items purchased and the name of the supplier, as well as a list of the top 15 suppliers and the amount the government spent with them.
“Of the R1.9 billion departmental spend, R1139923090.99, representing 57% of departmental spend, was spent on infrastructure programmes. These are projects that relate to upgrades and alterations to health facilities and to the establishment of quarantine facilities,” Zikalala said.
“Many of these are infrastructural projects in our schools, in our hospitals, in our communities. These projects will benefit our communities long after the Covid-19 pandemic has passed,” he said.
Zikalala said the government was releasing the list of contracts awarded so that each transaction would be in the public domain.
“We assure our citizens that if there is any wrongdoing that emerges, we will act. There will be consequence management, internally through disciplinary procedures, and where justified, through criminal prosecution,” Zikalala said.
The top five suppliers listed in the report by rand value of expenditure are:
GVK-Siya Zama Building Contractors (Cape), R311.6 million.
RGZ Projects, R163.7 million.
Logan Medical and Surgical, R122 million.
Leomatt JJS JV, R121.9 million.
ENZA Construction, R114.6 million.
Infrastructure spend accounted for 57% of expenditure, while 18.18% was spent on sanitisers; 9.85% on masks, 3.7% on dispensers and 3.18% on thermometers.
The eThekwini Municpality recorded the highest expenditure among municipalities with a spend of R447.398million, followed by uMkhanyakude at R154.399m and uMhlatuze at R85.1m, while Msunduzi spent R23.1m.
Zikalaka said all contracts would be pre-audited in future as earlier indicated by Finance MEC Ravi Pillay in his budget speech.
Speaking at the media briefing, Pillay said he planned to work towards a system to ensure that beyond Covid-19, details of government expenditure should be similarly published for public scrutiny.
The report can be accessed online at http://www.kznonline.gov.za/images/Downloads/KZN_Procurement%20Disclosure.pdf