Finance Minister Tito Mboweni File picture: GCIS
Finance Minister Tito Mboweni File picture: GCIS

Mboweni cracks whip over PPE tender scandals

By Mayibongwe Maqhina Time of article published Aug 5, 2020

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Cape Town – The National Treasury director-general, Dondo Mogajane, says they are considering new procurement measures to stop Covid-19 corruption.

Mogajane also said they have had discussions with Auditor-General Kimi Makwetu on what to look for in the auditing of finances.

He made the statement when he and Finance Minister Tito Mboweni briefed the joint meeting of parliamentary committees on issues related to personal protective equipment (PPEs).

"Emergency procurement of PPE and protective clothing is ended and institutions revert to open procurement processes.

"Procurement must be compliant with existing instructions for procurement," he said.

The director-general also said the National Treasury would also lock an absolute price for all PPE and listed protective clothing procurement.

Mogajane also told MPs that the National Treasury and Makwetu's office have developed a "preventative control guide" to provide accounting officers with a tool kit for possible solutions to make preventative control a reality.

Mogajane said they wanted to ensure that the new Procurement Bill went through Parliament and review the Public Finance Management Act and the Municipal Public Finance Management Act.

This should extend to emergency procurement procedures and strengthening the accountability of accounting officers.

Mogajane also said they could no longer be quiet about the participation of so-called Politically Exposed Persons (PEPs) in public procurement.

"This requires stringent review,including the age of business and history of same/type of service provision."

Addressing MPs earlier, Mboweni said Mogajane had issued the necessary instructions about the procurement of required material for the fight against pandemic, in particular PPE and related items.

"In an ethical society one would have expected all parties concerned would have followed Treasury instructions to the letter and ensure all procurement was in line with Treasury instructions," Mboweni said.

The minister said the National Treasury was working with heads of departments and MECs to ensure procurement processes were followed .

Mboweni said it was something for the administration and executive to follow up and that law enforcement agencies also need to follow up on those companies awarded tenders irregularly.

He said he would have a meeting with Finance MECs on Thursday to establish if tender processes were followed in Covid-19 tenders.

Also speaking at the meeting, Deputy Minister David Masondo said there were clear instances of some government institutions that betrayed the trust of the public to manage public finances.

"We do have right people in state institutions, but it is clear that there are people in these institutions that are not really doing South Africans a good service," Masondo said.

But, MPs across the political divide wanted to know about action taken against the culprits and when the Covid-19 contracts would be published by all institutions.

DA MP Geordin Hill-Lewis said Mboweni had not responded to their proposal for an inspector-general's Covid-19 and that it was inevitable that corruption would take place.

"Those things should have been foreseen," Hill-Lewis said.

ANC MP Kenny Morolong said: “We are interested in consequence management."

EFF MP Floyd Shivambu insisted on disciplining the responsible officials who defied the Treasury instructions and also accused the National Treasury for the corruption, saying it lacked capacity to monitor.

Freedom Front Plus MP Wouter Wessels said holding accounting officers should not be shifting the culprits to other state institutions and give them golden hand shakes.

"There should be much more focus on that issue of holding accounting officers to really make them accountable by having consequences," Wessels said.

Mogajane said they would publish the contracts that were awarded. He would not say if an official had been disciplined over Covid-19 contracts other than anecdotes. "There is no case to demonstrate to date except information gathered and evidence put together."

Mogajane also said state institutions have spent, as on Wednesday, R10.4 billion of the Covid-19 funds.

There is a total of R145 billion in Covid-19 relief packages and R1 222.4bn has been allocated.

"We are tracking Covid-19-related expenditures. We will know who is spending what in relation to Covid-19 relief packages."

Mboweni said the timelines for publication of contracts won by companies was something that was quite urgent. "It should not wait too long," he said.

Mboweni also said the Free State Finance MEC had notified him about a tender bulletin already published.

"The weakness is that it doesn't tell who the shareholders and directors are. We need to publish the list that deconstructs the shell of a company and tell us who is in the shell."

Mboweni said there was a need to strengthen the role of the executive, public representatives, professional bodies and prosecutorial capacity to deal with any malfeasance.

"I am still concerned that nothing happened to people who looted the Giyani project. There needs to be concrete action taken by law enforcement agencies," Mboweni said.

Political Bureau

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