Home South African AG warns politicians, govt officials to guard Covid-19 relief funds

AG warns politicians, govt officials to guard Covid-19 relief funds

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President Cyril Ramaphosa received the SIU’s final report that implicates officials and companies after the Covid-19 coffers were raided last year when the virus broke out and cash disbursed to contain it.

Auditor-General Tsakani Maluleke. Picture: Thobile Mathonsi/African News Agency (ANA)

PRESIDENT Cyril Ramaphosa received the Special Investigating Unit (SIU)’s final report that implicates officials and companies after the Covid-19 coffers were raided last year when the virus broke out and cash disbursed to contain it.

The release of the report comes after the standing committee on public accounts called on the Presidency to act on some of the SIU reports that were finalised in November.

The Presidency has confirmed that it has received the SIU report into personal protective equipment (PPE) corruption.

This comes after Auditor-General Tsakani Maluleke released her audit outcomes report this week with another report into Covid-19 corruption.

Maluleke warned politicians and accounting officers to act quickly to recover funds from government officials and companies that illegally benefited from Covid-19 relief funds.

Maluleke also urged officials and politicians not to lower their guard and to address the remaining risks and ensure that swift action is taken to recover losses and implement consequences.

She issued the warning this week when she presented her consolidated general report on national and provincial audit outcomes to the nation.

In the 248-page report, Maluleke gave a detailed account about the massive fraud undertaken after the outbreak of the Covid-19 pandemic in March 2020.

“In the reports, we highlighted the significant deficiencies in the procurement and contract management system process, and reported on the inadequate controls meant to ensure that payments are only made for goods and services that are delivered at the right time, price and quality.

“During the pandemic, the consequences of a supplier not delivering items such as PPE are severe.

“We expressed concern about unfairness in the awarding of government business and that sufficient care was not taken to protect against overpricing, financial loss, fraud and abuse of the system,” Maluleke said.

She said the bulk of the government’s PPE procurement took place in the health and education sectors but and warned that accounting officers must act against fraudsters immediately.

Maluleke welcomed the move by the SIU to take civil action against those implicated and the Hawks for arresting the perpetrators.

Meanwhile, the Presidency said Ramaphosa was studying the final report of the SIU into Covid-19 procurement corruption.

Ramaphosa’s acting spokesperson Tyrone Seale said the Presidency was studying the report and would keep the public abreast of developments in this matter.

“The Presidency will do so in a manner that preserves information that may be or become the subject of prosecution, civil action or disciplinary proceedings.

“It is expected the SIU report will contain information on matters that have been referred to the National Prosecutions Authority for prosecution; matters that have been referred to relevant departments or entities for disciplinary steps to be taken against their employees; and what monies have been recouped by the SIU,” Seale said.

He said the SIU was empowered in law to take these steps in the course of its work and as soon as it deems fit.

Earlier, the SIU revealed that the Gauteng provincial government – of all the nine provincial governments – had the highest reported allegations to the law enforcement authority.

SIU spokesperson Kaizer Kganyago said corruption and maladministration in the affairs of government departments, municipalities and state-owned entities were depriving the public of valuable resources.

Between April last year and March this year, the SIU recovered financial losses suffered by the state to the value of R1.8 billion, prevented losses to the tune of R2.7bn, and set aside administrative decisions and contracts amounting to R7.1bn.

The money could have been lost to corruption had no one blown the whistle.

During the financial year 2020/21, the SIU received a total of 1,276 allegations of corruption and maladministration in the affairs of government institutions.

A total of 410 allegations were concerning the affairs of the national government, followed by Gauteng and Limpopo provinces with 258 and 128 allegations respectively.

The SIU received 114 corruption allegations from KwaZulu-Natal and 104 from the Eastern Cape.

There were 70 allegations from the North West, 65 from Western Cape, 57 from Free State and 52 from Mpumalanga.

The people of the Northern Cape only reported 18 allegations of corruption to the SIU.

Political Bureau

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