Cosatu wants crackdown on PPE corruption
Cape Town - The Congress of South African Trade Unions (Cosatu) said on Wednesday the government should move with speed to halt the rot in the procurement of personal protective equipment (PPE).
The labour federation also said the government should send a message to the public that it was serious about tackling the cancer of corruption.
Cosatu parliamentary co-ordinator Matthew Parks said the state should immediately centralise the public procurement of PPEs for the entire country under the National Treasury.
Parks also said it should also only award PPE procurement contracts to local and legally compliant manufacturers.
He added that the government should publish the details of all PPE contracts awarded by the state, and ban politicians and their immediate families from state tenders.
Parks made the statement ahead of the expected appearance of Finance Minister Tito Mboweni and National Treasury officials before a joint meeting of the standing committee on finance and select committee on finance on Wednesday afternoon.
The meeting was called in the wake of the corruption allegations into Covid-19 contracts in provincial departments of health and municipalities.
“We are alarmed by allegations in the public domain, whereby it is alleged that it is possible for a single company to be awarded a tender worth over R500 million to provide PPE," finance committee chairperson Joe Maswanganyi said at the time.
Parks said they welcomed the appearance of Mboweni and National Treasury officials before the committees to account for national scandals engulfing the procurement of PPEs.
"Cosatu has repeatedly raised with the government and publicly the massive loopholes in the public procurement of PPEs," he said.
Parks stated that the procurement processes had resulted in industrial-scale looting, the supply of shoddy PPEs and gross wastage of billions of rand due to overpriced products, among other things.
He said all PPE tenders should be audited and those who had broken the law prosecuted.
Parks also said the government should exercise the full powers of the Auditing Amendment Act to hold offending politicians and officials personally financially liable for corruption and wasteful expenditure under their watch.
The labour federation also called for the removal of political officer bearers whose departments were implicated in corruption and wasteful expenditure; and the establishment of rapid response courts to tackle such cases.
It added that the Public Procurement Bill should be finalised and fast-tracked, and that the National Treasury and relevant departments should report fortnightly on the interventions to Parliament and the public.
"The government must now show leadership and the time for the mass anarchy that has come to characterise governance in South Africa must end. Millions of lives depend on it."
Last week, Mboweni had undertaken to clamp down on corruption.
He told MPs during an adjustment budget debate in the National Council of Provinces that he would meet senior officials in the National Treasury to look at setting up a centrally based system on the procurement of Covid-19 equipment.
Mboweni had also urged provinces to make public the Covid-19 contracts that had been awarded.
The DA has since called for him to walk the talk and issue a circular instructing provinces and the department to do so after the Western Cape government became the first to publish the list of awarded Covid-19 contracts.