Madonsela and WHO boss slam Covid-19 corruption in SA

Scandal thrown into the international spotlight, as World Health Organisation director-general calls it ‘murder’.
Thuli Madonsela and Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus. Madonsela says a return to the Disaster Management Act framework by President Cyril Ramaphosa would allow opposition parties and civil society to be involved and take the ‘monopoly’ away from the NCCC. Image: Moneyweb and Stefan Wermuth, Bloomberg

Former Public Protector Thuli Madonsela and Dr Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus, head of the World Health Organisation (WHO), have weighed in on the controversy around Covid-19 corruption in South Africa, particularly cases involving person protective equipment (PPE) intended for health workers.

Madonsela, who was speaking during an Ahmed Kathrada Foundation C19 Anti-corruption Campaign Online Rally address on Friday night, raised concerns that Covid-19 corruption may have led to the death of frontline health workers in the country due to substandard PPE or delays in delivery to health facilities.

Read: SIU investigating R5bn worth of Covid-19 tenders

Her sentiments were echoed by the WHO director-general during a separate Covid-19 briefing on Friday.

Ghebreyesus went further, saying that if health workers’ lives were lost due to corruption, it equated to murder. His comments have effectively thrown the scandal into the world spotlight.

‘It’s actually murder’

“Any level … or type of corruption is unacceptable. However, corruption related to PPE lifesaving, for me it’s actually murder; because if health workers work without PPE, we’re risking their lives,” said Ghebreyesus.

“And that also risks the lives of the people they serve.”

Ghebreyesus was responding to a question following the WHO’s online update and media conference on the global pandemic.

“It’s criminal and it’s murder, and it has to stop if it’s happening anywhere,” he warned.

Trust has been lost

Madonsela said that while South Africa has lost money, the country had “probably lost some of our frontline workers” as well as trust.

“Trust was already in the emergency room in this democracy. When we talked about the new dawn, that was a period when that trust was being renewed. Now we’re back in the emergency room that makes our democracy fragile.

“Corruption is a threat to all of us,” she added. “Corruption threatens democracy, justice, the rule of law, peace. The outcomes of corruption are death, hunger and anger and democratic fragility.”

She said the fact that emergency procurement around Covid-19 was necessary could not be blamed for the corruption that has now come to light.

“The law is clear … Nothing in emergency procurement allows overcharging, over-billing, false billing, cronyism, nepotism and the violation of conflict of interest,” she said.

“Nothing in emergency procurement allows state functionaries to leave tried-and-tested service providers in their system and go for fly-by-night tenderpreneurs or covidprenuers,” she added.

Madonsela said the greatest risk is shoddy work, with these companies not having the structure that could replace products if there were any issues.

“These companies are probably also not party to regulatory bodies that assure quality assurance in their sectors. I do not understand why this was done, because in hospitals, PPEs in every country are procured from specific companies,” she noted.

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“What saddens me is that other countries used this opportunity to foster industries in their own country.… To have people who procure cheap products from China and then sell to the state at exorbitant extent is just bewildering to me,” she added.

Madonsela, who is now a law professor at Stellenbosch University, said civil society organisations had warned of corruption emanating from Covid-19 tenders as early as April this year.

This led to the law trust, which she heads at the university, setting up the Social Justice and Covid-19 Policy and Relief Monitoring Alliance (Scopra).

“As Scopra, we foresaw trouble. We knew that there was going to be theft, there was going to be corruption [and] ineptitude.… But nothing prepared us for the emerging picture.

“Nothing could have prepared us for the alleged extent of cruelty and greed.

“We warned government,” said Madonsela.

“We sent them a statement on April 28, having constituted ourselves as Scopra. We asked the president, we asked the minister of Cogta [Cooperative Governance and Traditional Affairs] to ensure that there was transparency in all Covid-19 procurement,” she pointed out.

Transparency isn’t difficult

“[We asked] that all of these tenders could be put on the internet, for everyone to know what had been procured, from who and at what cost. We demanded accountability. But above everything else, we asked the government more than three times to comply with the Disaster Management Act,” Madonsela added.

She said this meant government also had to include civil society in a more cooperative manner in dealing with Covid-19 transparently.

Instead, government set up the National Covid-19 Command Council (NCCC), which is made up only of ministers and senior government officials.

“What saddens me is that everyone now blames the president. Yes of course, he is the captain, but he allowed himself to be barricaded by his own ministers.”

“He didn’t choose the vehicle. He was advised by his ministers, who moved him away from the Disaster Management Act and created a structure that mostly allows one party to manage this very crucial time of [the country’s] management,” said Madonsela.

“I think the president will do himself a favour if he returns to the Disaster Management Act framework and therefore take[s] away the monopoly from his colleagues,” she added, noting that this would allow opposition parties and civil society to be part of the process.

* South African civil society organisations, including the Ahmed Kathrada Foundation, are set to begin nationwide protests against Covid-19 corruption this week through online events and small demonstrations, in line with pandemic-related social distancing requirements.



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Dr.Tedros, you can’t speak about this, your organisation got the Covid 19 pandemic all wrong. You caused the world economies to be shut down for no good reason. You murdered the world.

Only leaders of a country can shut it down… so you can blame who ever you think —- but the advise what WHO given can be independently validated and acted upon.

Look at blaming the right people; and also I am thinking that you are not a medical professional to be able to make this call.

The results of the Covid scare speaks for itself. The WHO gave predictions and recommendations. They got it all wrong.

Etienne, I am sure recollection will remind you, it was the WHO that broadcasted air travel needn’t be stopped, then back tracked

It was the WHO that advised face-masks were not necessary then back tracked

It was the WHO then admitted this Covid19 was as bad if not worse than the Spanish flu and celebrity Epidemiologists like Neil Ferguson, who’s modelling was not just off kilt and who ignored his own advice for everyone to self quarantine and found out to have had bunga bunga with a married women

50 billon plus loss in taxes to SARS for 8000 deaths

Its all a sick joke of knee jerk governance through fear and a realisation that governments will now lie to avoid the turd sandwich for lunch

@Leah Buchanan

Unfortunately the scientific process requires time and advise will change when data indicates that previous advise is incorrect.

Either way —- only the leader of a country can shut it down; not WHO…

It is typically South African of you to blame others for mistakes that was enacted by the leadership.

With the gleeful assistance of the media…. everyone will get the virus and you’re all going to die.

And the solution? Destroy your job and live in poverty.

Pure genius

You are all delusional… the country was on its knees BEFORE covid came. It would have taken any bump in the road to derail the mess that is the SA economy.

(Recency bias)

WoW!!You are angry.
President Trump is suing China for $800b and now you wish to put WHO on trail for ‘murdered the world’.

I thought the cANCer is the culprit.

Nope, he is honest…your brain misinterprets anything contrary to your indoctrinated opinion as angry…

ChrisStoffel, no country was forced or obliged to obey the WHO. Some didn’t: such as Sweden and, in early days, the UK (the latetr changed it’s strategy, though). The results are now evident.

Following without thinking is a psychological phenomenon well discussed in the literature such as Pavlov, has been well exploited by the likes of the North Koreans, as “brainwashing.”

Simply, in the absence of proper information, your brain follows whatever fed to it. It cannot be helped.

But we expect that the leaders that we elect to run the State should have some modicum of analytical consideration. So clearly they didn’t.

the WHO may have acted with good intentions or other. But the responsibility for actions rests with the heads of the State. By the way that’s not the same as the government or the ruling party.

Well, I do blame the president. Leaders have to make hard decisions and take responsibility for said decisions. If you are incapable of doing so, then you are merely a puppet and not a leader.

Now that you got that off your chest, I am sure you feel better now.
Take a bow and get back to work.

ah..Reggwat …you finding all this an intellectual challenge

May I suggest you surf over to

Well, ja-nee. Kyk hoe lyk ons nou, as they say in the academics.

“Slamming” it helps a great deal. WOW!!!

Our beloved President warned about this before it happened. Remember?

So the question is if he expected this was going to happen why did he allow it to happen??

How dare you support the President.
People of other countries support their presidents.

In SA we shoot them down – irrespective what they say or do, right or wrong!


Who caused bankruptcies.

The whole world is bankrupt.

SA is only a small part (probably a lot smaller than small) and is only experiencing what people globally are experiencing.

SA will bounce back (like it did many times before) and will become stronger if we work together and support one another – provided the lights are on off-course. Other than that we are all good here in townships.

I’m not a betting man, but if I was, I wouldn’t put any money on South Africa bouncing back any time soon or to any good level to be frank.

Society in South Africa is wreaked in ways that will take decades to repair and only then can this country and it’s people flourish. Culture, mindset, education and responsibility is not learnt overnight, it takes family and community structures to send the youth on the right path and sadly the family and community structures have been annihilated by the political parties of this country over the last few decades which is why we have millions of people who have zero concept of taking responsibility.

Without responsible people in society, it can’t function and prosper as people will keep taking other peoples rights and properties away.
The ANC does this very well and hence why we have such an deep rooted problem that will take so long to fix, even if we start tomorrow.

A healthy dose of reality and honesty can’t hurt our collective efforts though…

In prof Madonsela we have a tiny, soft spoken woman, that has more backbone and leadership than the whole ANC party.

Not so fast Groen. This “nothing prepared us for the emerging picture” is just childish rubbish, at best. At worst it is just ANC factional lies. Does she really expect us to believe that with most of SA (I say) knowing how deeply corrupt the ANC regime is the PPE looting came as a surprise. She’s been spending too much advocating racist EWC etc and maybe missed it (yeah right).

RSA is not alone in Covid funds fraud and theft, it is a global event.

Companies like AYANDA in the UK and SERCO (the UK equivalent of the GUPTAs) always at the forefront of any scandal and always receiving endless government contracts, for anything from an N95 masks, to a 10yr contract for housing migrants in hotels.

My point here is that we all saw this coming, it was inevitable and socialist governments all over the world (is there another kind, really?) have not disappointed our very much lowered expectations.

The south African populace is as sick as the rest of the world in this shameless theft. At what point is enough, enough. When does the pressure cooker go off, we all know we are being played. The global politicians will only take notice and temporarily pay attention when there is an eruption of anger. How far that anger goes will determine whether or not we can force change.

I found Madonsela comments on the structure of the NCCC far more interesting than her comments on the obvious theft – i believe more focus should be placed on that.

The problem that stares most, if not all countries, in the face is that governments everywhere have gotten their hands on too much power and too much money and hardly anyone being held accountable or responsible for their actions.

People need to remember that governments were created to serve the people and protect those who are not able to protect themselves. So we need the people to remove some of the power that was granted to governments by the people and to remind them what their purpose is.

They are there to serve society. Not to serve themselves by abusing their power and influence granting them financial benefits.

Governments need to get cut way down in size and power.

Agreed…if you want to see power and corruption at play, just wait until the ‘vaccines’ get released…this is still change room warmup time…

This Covid debacle reminds me of the Y2K “bug”
Similarities are astounding.

* Create the fear of a total collapse of the planet
* Make money from the various spinoff industries… call it vaccines, testing, PPE fraud, building tent hospitals.


Tedros, with his brutal reputation in his home country Ethiopia, is in no position to criticise anyone…albeit he’s right in this instance!

End of comments.



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