Members of Parliament are pushing for more oversight and scrutiny of the R500 billion injected by the government for procurement of Covid-19 items.
Photo: File
Members of Parliament are pushing for more oversight and scrutiny of the R500 billion injected by the government for procurement of Covid-19 items. Photo: File

MPs push for more oversight on R500bn used to procure Covid-19 items

By Siyabonga Mkhwanazi Time of article published Jun 6, 2020

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Members of Parliament are pushing for more oversight and scrutiny of the R500 billion injected by the government for procurement of Covid-19 items and other supplies following allegations of corruption and looting.

Speaker Thandi Modise also came out in support of the Auditor-General, Kimi Makwetu, to investigate corruption linked to contracts and projects of Covid-19.

MPs said they did not want to wait until the end of the financial year before the books of departments and government entities were scrutinised by the auditors.

They wanted to investigate the books and contracts as and when procurement was done.

EFF MP Ntombivuyo Mente told the programme committee they want to look at the books in real time and not delay until the end of the financial year when the books were already closed.

The Standing Committee on Public Accounts had raised concern about the R37 million that was spent on the building of a fence at the Beitbridge border post saying the money paid did not equal the value of the work done.

Mente said they now need to scrutinise every deal related to the R500bn announced by the president to fight Covid-19.

"I don't know if Cedric Frolick (House chairperson) is responsible for portfolio committees for oversight where there is procurement. I don't want us to be complicit to the fraud many departments are committing. There are special instructions from the National Treasury on how you deal with special procurement," said Mente.

Steve Swart of the ACDP also called for oversight on Covid-19 funds.

"On our oversight on Covid expenditure, is it possible to have real time audit," said Swart adding that Scopa was able to stop the Beitbridge project because of that oversight.

He said MPs needed to have rigorous oversight on the R500bn for Covid-19 procurement.

Frolick said it was possible for portfolio committees to have oversight on these funds. He said some of the committees have already conducted oversight during the lockdown period.

"Physical oversight is determined by the regulations. The short answer is that it is possible. We are led by the importance of that oversight," said Frolick.

Modise said strategic oversight on Covid-19 procurement was necessary. She said the Auditor-General has been given more powers to clamp down on corruption. The law was swung into action last year and the AG would have powers to rein in officials implicated in corruption.

Modise said they fully back the Auditor-General. "As Parliament we are behind the AG. We will not be looking at the faces, but facts before us," she said on investigations done by the AG.

The AG had for years been complaining by lack of powers to deal with corruption. But MPs said they wanted to intensify their oversight so that they can identify irregularities in contracts and projects early on. This would help to get the funds on projects identified and not be diverted for other purposes and corruption. 

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