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“NC withheld PPE tender cases from SIU”

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The Northern Cape awarded Covid-19-related tenders to 175 service providers, but only a single transaction relating to the procurement of personal protective equipment was submitted to the Special Investigations Unit (SIU)

DA member of the provincial legislature Andrew Louw

THE DA has questioned why only a single transaction relating to the procurement of personal protective equipment (PPE) in the Northern Cape was submitted to the Special Investigations Unit (SIU) for investigation.

The SIU found no wrongdoing with the tender that was awarded by the SAPS to Mandisa Shushu, the wife of the special adviser to the premier, Norman Shushu, for the provision of surgical face masks.

Provincial government awarded tenders to 175 service providers, where R171.59 million was spent on PPE, social relief, disinfecting public buildings, infrastructure works and repairs in the Northern Cape as of July 31, 2020.

DA member of the provincial legislature Andrew Louw pointed out that 188 cases relating to Covid-19 expenditure were submitted by other provinces to the SIU for investigation.

“You cannot tell me that the Northern Cape is immune to corruption … there is no vaccination against this debilitating disease,” said Louw.

He added that irregularities were picked up in the Northern Cape, according to the Office of the Auditor-General.

“Incidents in other provinces were referred by the SIU to state institutions for disciplinary action and even to the National Prosecuting Authority for criminal prosecution. Yet, the Northern Cape simply withheld these cases from the SIU. We cannot allow corruption to be protected in the Northern Cape.

“It is most unfortunate that, as we fight a pandemic, it is actually the Health Department that has become the most hamstrung by corruption. The web runs deep. There is thuggery within this department.”

Louw stated that procurement went “hand in hand with threats, while spin doctors painted a pretty picture for the premier and MEC”.

“The reality is very different. There is undue political interference within this department.”

He indicated that the deputy Speaker of the Legislature, Mangaliso Matika, served as the chairperson of the Robert Mangaliso Sobukwe Hospital board.

“Given his key role in oversight of government departments, surely this presents a serious conflict of interest? Health care is supposed to save lives and is not intended to be used in political power struggles, or for personal enrichment.”

Louw called for a forensic audit to be conducted on all procurement and contracts at the Department of Health.

He was concerned about how many departments were functioning without permanently appointed heads of department, including critical departments such as the Department of Health, Department of Education and the Department of Roads and Public Works.

Louw added that there was no consequence management when it came to officials.

He awarded the premier an “F” on his scorecard for allowing Kimberley to drastically decline under his watch.

“The Sol Plaatje cleaning project that made absolutely no difference in the cleanliness of the city was stopped due to cost constraints. Kimberley would win the competition for the dirtiest city.

“Kimberley has never looked and felt worse than what it is today. It’s dirty, filled with potholes, soiled with sewerage, characterised by poor service delivery and even expensive to live in. Sol Plaatje is a municipality in political, financial and operational crisis.”

Louw added that cadre deployment was leading to the ruin of municipalities where officials reported for duty merely to collect a salary.