Home South African Cabinet committee probing PPE tenders won’t overshadow law enforcement agencies

Cabinet committee probing PPE tenders won’t overshadow law enforcement agencies

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The assurance was given by the chairperson of the committee, Justice Minister Ronald Lamola, during a post-Cabinet briefing.

File image. Picture: Ian Landsberg African News Agency (ANA).

Sihle Mavuso

CABINET has sought to clarify the role of the inter-ministerial committee on Covid-19-related procurement, saying it will not overshadow the work of the country’s several law enforcement agencies.

The assurance was given by the chairperson of the committee, Justice Minister Ronald Lamola, during a post-Cabinet media briefing on Thursday in Pretoria.

The news of the special committee was first known via a leaked letter from President Cyril Ramaphosa to his Cabinet ministers on Wednesday.

In the letter, Ramaphosa asked all his ministers to compile a list of Covid-19 tenders and submit the list to him so that he can avail them to the public.

“In this regard, I request your full co-operation in providing the information related to names of companies and amounts of tenders and contracts that have been awarded in your respective departments (and entities) during the period of the Covid-19 and national state of disaster. These lists must be provided to the above committee as a matter of urgency this week. The committee will prepare a comprehensive report and I intend to release this information publicly,” Ramaphosa said in the letter.

Lamola’s assurance came as there were concerns that the committee was taking over the role of law enforcement agencies and was compromised since it was tasked to “sort of” investigate its own colleagues.

“I must state that the inter-ministerial committee is not replacing the work of the investigators of the fusion centre. We are there to call upon our DGs, to call upon the various role-players within the state that dealt with procurement to publish the list (of tenders) …

“If there is anything, we will allow that to be handled by our law enforcement agencies. We are not replacing the constitutionally mandated law enforcement structures to deal with malpractice and corruption.

“They must continue to do their job, we are just going to help them with further information to say in this department of justice that these are the companies that did the job, this is how they did it and this is the amount (they were paid) and if there is any suspicion there would be an investigation to verify if there was any malpractice, there was any corruption, there was no compliance with whatever prescript and then the law enforcement agencies can take it from there,” Lamola said.

Lamola also said that the Ramaphosa administration was serious about dealing with corruption, hence they were looking at ways to harvest some of the best investigators from the ongoing Zondo commission into state capture.

“There is (a) capacity that is being winded down from the Zondo … commission of inquiry… Some of the investigators have done their part. We need to give them a permanent home because they have already acquired a very good skill that would be helpful for the fight against crime going forward as a country.

“So we need to find a way, including the capability in terms of technology that is being used by the Zondo commission and that is what we are beginning to engage on and hopefully, soon we will be able to give a clear answer to that as Cabinet,” he said.