Cape Town – With government debt expected to reach R3.9 trillion in 2020/21, according to President Cyril Ramaphosa, agricultural union TLU SA believes it is not enough for the government to simply announce the names of people or companies who received Covid-19 tenders.
Ramaphosa indicated during a question and answer session in Parliament today that one of the greatest challenges we are facing as a country is the ’’theft of public resources by those given responsibility to safeguard and manage them’’.
Special courts to deal with Covid-19 corruption and a prosecuting body similar to the defunct Scorpions were some of the issues considered by the government.
Hailing the efforts of the Special Investigating Unit, Ramaphosa said a critical part of our efforts to root out all corruption – both in the public and private sectors – has been to rebuild our law enforcement agencies, to restore their integrity and credibility and provide them with the means to act against corruption.
The president believes technology can help play a major role in combating corruption in future.
Ramaphosa said the publishing of government Covid-19 contracts should serve as a ’’watershed moment’’ that marked a new era in transparency in procurement of goods and services.
"We need to reform our procurement system so that those who seek to defraud and profiteer unfairly from the government are no longer safe," he said.
Responding to a question from DA leader John Steenhuisen, he said: ’’We are now strengthening our resolve for the very first time. We got all 11 agencies in government working together looking at all acts of corruption... We are to make make progress."
The TLU SA, however, said in a statement the government should instead ask for how long the phenomenon of nepotism and cadre preference in terms of tender practices have been going on.
“It is just as important to ensure that the process of awarding tenders is transparent, as it is to know who finally receives these tenders,” says Louis Meintjes, the president of TLU SA.
“The ANC’s long history of tender corruption completely ruined South Africans trust in the process.”
TLU SA demanded the establishment of a tender council in each government department, which awards government projects according to acceptable and transparent procedures.
It believes the panel should comprise at least three members of opposition parties to ensure the ANC does not give tenders to family, friends and business partners.
“The tender process should be completely transparent, from the announcement and advertisement for a specific tender, up to the submission and granting of it,” TLSU says.
’’The criteria for giving a tender, as well as the requirements for a person or company to take part in the process successfully, should appear in the advertisement.“
TLSU says skill and the ability to complete the project should be the only criteria when awarding a tender.
’’South Africa does not have the luxury to waste money on inflated and wrongfully awarded tenders since the economy is in ruins.
“The way the South African government awarded tenders up to now creates the illusion that the solution to ending tender corruption is to simply go public with the names of individuals or companies who received tenders. Announcements do not guarantee transparency.”
The ANC national executive committee will meet from Friday in Pretoria for three days and among the issues expected on the agenda is corruption and how to deal with party members, such as former eThekwini mayor Zandile Gumede, facing corruption and criminal charges.