I don’t engage in piggish plunder of public resources – Northern Cape Premier Zamani Saul
Northern Cape Premier Dr Zamani Saul has denied having any influence in awarding multimillion-rand tenders to service providers during the Covid-19 pandemic.
This follows media reports that Mandisa Shushu, the wife of Norman Shushu a special adviser in the Premier’s Office, received a R13 million tender to supply the SAPS with one million surgical face masks.
Also under scrutiny is a R26.9 million tender that was awarded to Macronym 37, a company that in 2016 was in the process of being deregistered from the Companies and Intellectual Property Commission (Cipro).
It was reported that the owner of the company, Somandla Sibisi, is politically connected and a close friend of Saul.
Macronym was awarded tenders for the provision of face masks and coveralls by the provincial Department of Health as well as for the distribution of food parcels throughout the Northern Cape.
Sibisi had denied having any relationship with Saul.
Shushu was quoted as advising his wife to cancel the contract as he was employed by government.
As of July, the Northern Cape local government spent R87 million on PPEs, R36 million on social relief grants, R39 million on the disinfection of public buildings and R9 million on infrastructure works and repairs during the national lockdown.
Saul stated that he had great respect for his “fiduciary role” as the premier and denied the allegations that he influenced the awarding of Covid-19 tenders.
“The article seeks to suggest that I have unduly influenced the awarding of Covid-19-related tenders. I want to mention it up front that I don’t engage in piggish plunder of public resources,”
Saul denied having any links with the service providers
“At no point was I involved or tried to influence procurement processes in the Department of Health or the South African Police Service (SAPS) for the benefit of certain individuals … I do not have any role in the management of the SAPS and how they issue tenders, as the SAPS is a national competency.”
Saul also vehemently denied having any ties with Sibisi.
“The allegation that comes from an undisclosed source that Somandla Sibisi is my close friend is pure nonsense. I don’t have a close friend called Somandla Sibisi and I challenge anybody with information to the contrary to come to the fore. I relate to him like any other business person in the Province, which in most cases I meet at ANC events and State of the Province addresses. I don’t have any business, personal or professional dealings with him.”
He indicated that it was “distasteful” to be accused of corruption while he had publicly spoken out against it.
“A matter as serious as this is used to launch an unwarranted attack on my person and integrity. I was amongst the first premiers to support the president’s announcement on publicly declaring all PPE procurement.
“As chairperson of the Provincial Command Council I have, on record, called for full disclosure of all procurements. As a result, the Northern Cape government presented a detailed report on Covid-19 expenditures. This is all due to the fact that there was nothing to hide from my side.”
Saul added that it was impossible for him to have been involved in the issuing of a SAPS tender to Mandisa Shushu, the wife of his special adviser.
“While Norman Shushu is my personal adviser, I don’t understand where I fit in this matter. If the alleged tender was awarded by SAPS in an unlawful manner, the matter must be reported to the law enforcement agencies and the law must take its course. Grasping at straws in an attempt to create a link between myself and the awarding of the tender is actually silly and driven by ulterior motives.”
He pointed out that while it was fair for public servants to be subjected to scrutiny, “reckless allegations without evidence against individuals” would endanger the fight against corruption.
“Since we started with this 6th administration we embarked on far-reaching measures to cut wastage and corruption in the system. As a result we managed to save the provincial government close to R200 million in less than a year.”
Saul said that there are disgruntled individuals who are “deeply unhappy” about measures taken to prevent corruption in the Province.
“They are busy with a serious pushback campaign … to soil my reputation. I will not be deterred by this witch-hunt and blackmail. I will continue to serve the people of Northern Cape honestly and transparently.”
He assured the public that if there was anything untoward with any of the Covid-19-related tenders issued to the 175 companies, there would be “serious consequences” for all those involved.