[imagesource: Fernando Vergara/AP]
Over the weekend, President Cyril Ramaphosa penned a letter to the ANC’s members, and the South African public, promising them that the party will take steps to deal with corruption.
Narrator’s voice – yes, we’ve heard this one before, and actions speak louder than words.
Whilst South Africans have almost come to accept the gross corruption and criminality that is a daily part of our political landscape, the looting of COVID-19 funds clearly struck a nerve.
In hospitals across the country, many healthcare professionals were forced to work without even the most basic of personal protective equipment (PPE), as tenders went to the politically connected and the feeding frenzy continued.
According to reports over the weekend, you didn’t even need a pulse to secure a lucrative deal, with this from the Daily Dispatch:
He has been dead for two years, and yet an East London businessman scored a personal protective equipment tender worth almost R1m from the Eastern Cape health department.
Odwa KK Matshaya’s family was stunned by the appearance of the dead man’s company on a list of more than 600 firms to have benefited from the department’s R1.2bn Covid-19 procurement expenditure in the past three months…
According to the list, 2KS Construction and Projects received R992,105.
Other people featured on that list of 600 firms have also come forward, claiming that they were never awarded contracts, and the Special Investigations Unit (SIU) is now looking into 352 contracts in the Eastern Cape alone.
A health department insider says the odd million-rand tender is just the “tip of the iceberg”:
“If you dig more, you will find there are ghost companies that got paid millions of rand. Get their account numbers — you will be shocked by who benefited. There are companies that were given appointment letters but no work was given to them, yet their names appear on the provincial list as companies that were awarded work,” said the official.
In fact, a total of 17 companies were awarded work worth exactly R1,56 million, whilst another eight received exactly R1,576 million.
When presented with the allegations linked to the 2KS Construction and Projects contract, the Eastern Cape health department strongly denied any corruption or fraud, but refused to provide contact details for the person who allegedly carried out the work.
The SIU is said to be looking into around R5 billion in COVID-19-related government contracts nationally, and SARS Commissioner Edward Kieswetter had this to say on Friday:
“Many companies were previously registered, but they were not in the PPE business. We found providers registered as pubs, IT companies, car washing companies, and property renting companies.”
Letters are fun to write, Mr President, but again, let’s see some action:
Sir, how many turning points can our battered nation handle? How many “new” starts & “this time we are serious” does your ANC thinks it deserves? Whatever debt South Africans owe your party for fighting apartheid, has been paid up. OVERPAID actually. We owe your party NOTHING Sir https://t.co/Ls2PELf0Ko
— Redi Tlhabi (@RediTlhabi) August 23, 2020
Everyone talks about businesses having to pivot, and adapt, to survive in these trying, ‘unprecedented’ times.
If only all the restaurateurs and other businesses clinging on for dear life had known that they just needed a politically connected pal on the inside and a lovely little tender.
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