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SA probe finds evidence of political pressure, fraud in Covid-19 contracts

Fuelled by an “insatiable pursuit of self-enrichment”, a report showed on Friday.
Image: T. Narayan/Bloomberg

A probe into public spending on coronavirus in South Africa has found evidence of political pressure, price inflation, and fraud in many of the contracts, fuelled by an “insatiable pursuit of self-enrichment”, a report showed on Friday.

The Special Investigation Unit (SIU) launched the probe in July after a flood of whistleblower submissions alleging irregularities in the procurement of personal protective equipment (PPE) and hospital supplies like beds and wheel chairs.

The investigation found evidence of tax fraud, the use of shell companies to win multiple contracts, instances of price inflation of up to 500%, and political pressure put on managers to break procurement laws, SIU head Andy Mothibi told reporters.

The investigation looked into more than R13 billion ($870 million) of spending, just a slice of total Covid-19 expenditure of R30.7 billion.

“It appears that persons in positions of authority in some state institutions believed that the declaration of the state of emergency meant that all procurement is automatically conducted on an emergency basis,” Mothobi said.

“The SIU investigations have revealed a flagrant and wanton disregard of the applicable law, policies and procedures. My observation is that the flagrant and wanton disregard is underpinned by insatiable pursuit of self-enrichment.”

The investigation will be concluded in the next six months, Mothobi said.

The SIU said that to date, contracts with a value of R365 million had been sent to a special tribunal formed to hear the cases. It added that about R260.60 million in cash or assets were seen as recoverable.

South Africa has the highest number of coronavirus cases and deaths on the continent with about 1.4 million cases and more than 45 000 deaths to date.

Already in recession before the pandemic struck, the country has also struggled to fund vaccine purchases, partly due to years of government corruption. President Cyril Ramaphosa has vowed to deal harshly with graft.

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“The SIU investigations have revealed a flagrant and wanton disregard of the applicable law, policies and procedures. My observation is that the flagrant and wanton disregard is underpinned by insatiable pursuit of self-enrichment.”

Surely not! This must be fake news! How could “persons in authority” put their own enrichment ahead of the severely ill voters?

I am afraid “our leader” has no intention of dealing with graft.

Lets not forget that when “self enrichment” is mentioned the first citizen (and his family) has been the most successful and he would do anything to divert attention to the fact.

This includes allowing the corrupt criminals in the organization he leads to …. and pillage.

And now, for the icing on the cake, the vaccine rollout will make PPE procurement look like child’s play… Cadres, spouses of cadres and cadre’s kids are licking their lips while quick shell company purchases are made in anticipation of the mother lode of windfalls while, all around them, South Africans die and healthcare workers burn out.

The Johnny and the Moet shall flow while more graves are dug.

No surprise there with the endemic intrinsic corruption and institutional theft the ANC has perfected.

End of comments.

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