Online publication of COVID-19 tenders takes war to corruption

Read time 3min 30sec

President Cyril Ramaphosa believes the publication of COVID-19 tenders, especially for personal protective equipment (PPE), will play a big role in curbing corruption.

Ramaphosa made the remarks yesterday when he presented the Presidency Budget Vote 2021 to the National Assembly.

The procurement of PPEs in SA has been dominated by allegations of corruption and mismanagement in both the public and private sectors.

“The achievement of a capable and developmental state requires that we decisively defeat corruption in all its forms,” said Ramaphosa.

“If our economy is to thrive, if our people are to be empowered, if poverty is to be defeated, we need to tackle corruption, fraud and mismanagement in every area of public life. Since the start of this administration, we have taken decisive measures to end state capture and fight corruption.”

According to the president, the online publication of all COVID-related contracts across all public entities has established a precedent for greater transparency in government procurement.

As corruption took a toll on PPE procurement, in August last year the Office of the Chief Procurement Officer published a full list of all companies that were awarded contracts by government for the supply of goods and services relating to the COVID-19 pandemic on the National Treasury Web site.

The lists include COVID-19 procurement information from all provinces, national departments and over 70 public entities.

The move was in line with a directive issued by Ramaphosa on 5 August 2020 for departments to submit full information on COVID-19 tenders to the ministerial team convened by Justice and Correctional Services minister Ronald Lamola.

“This measure is unprecedented, and a clear demonstration of government’s commitment to transparency and accountability when it comes to allegations of corruption in the COVID-19 procurement process,” Ramaphosa said at the time.

National Treasury was directed to regularly update the online register to ensure the information remains current.

In his speech yesterday, the president said in a capable state, there is accountability and oversight across all three spheres of government, driven by the Presidency.

“It is for this reason that I have signed individual performance agreements with ministers that outline their responsibilities and their performance indicators in line with the Medium-Term Strategic Framework.

“In support of our commitment to transparency and open government, these performance agreements are available to the public online.”

Turning to the Presidential Employment Stimulus, Ramaphosa said to date, it has supported nearly 700 000 opportunities.

Of these, he added, 422 000 are jobs that have been created or retained, 110 000 are awards issued for livelihoods support, and a further 162 000 are opportunities where awards are currently in process.

“We have developed an online dashboard where South Africans can track progress in the implementation of the stimulus, pioneering a new approach to transparency and accountability.

“The stimulus has played a crucial role in supporting vulnerable households to keep working and earning an income, while at the same time benefitting the communities in which they work. It has incubated new approaches to co-ordination and collaboration across government to achieve a single objective, demonstrating the powerful results of a whole-of-government approach.”

He pointed out that a further R11 billion has been allocated for the continuation of the Presidential Employment Stimulus in the current financial year.

Meanwhile, Khumbudzo Ntshavheni, acting minister in the Presidency, speaking yesterday during the Presidency budget debate vote, said government has committed to building an ethical state, which has zero tolerance of corruption.

“The fact that the SIU [Special Investigating Unit] is investigating the allegations of corruption related to the PPE procurement and Digital Vibes contracts point to our commitment to fight against corruption.

“We recognise that the prevention, detection and prosecution of corruption go beyond law enforcement, requiring the activation of capacities and systems across government and the broader society.”

See also