The coronavirus pandemic has exposed poor oversight in monitoring corruption on the part of the Eastern Cape government.
Five companies on the published list of over 300 companies doing business with the government in the province are linked to government officials who ended up getting PPE tenders. This caused an uproar from various quarters, and the provincial treasury promised to act on any wrongdoing.
But two weeks on and nothing has happened.
Questions of impropriety continue to be asked since the release of the list of companies that clinched PPE and hospital refurbishment tenders.
The source of discontent being the ownership of those companies, their proximity to provincial political heads and the criteria used to award those tenders.
Nearly R600 million has been spent on various tender-related procurement in the past four months.
The Special Investigation Unit (SIU) is also looking into 350 transactions related to coronavirus spending in the province.
Eastern Cape Premier Oscar Mabuyane says everyone in the wrong will be held accountable.
“We are going all out to ensure that everything that we do is transparent, everyone is held accountable and people must have answers where they are implicated. So, we are working very hard on that issue in particular because corruption is an antithesis of progress and development. If we allow it to continue unabated, surely we are not going to move forward to be where we want to be.”
Government watchdog, the Public Service Accountability Monitor, says action must be taken.
Public Service Accountability Monitor Director, Jay Kruuse, says appointed officials must comply with the law.
“It requires coordination between law enforcement authorities and it also requires heads of departments and director generals and municipal managers to comply with the law and take disciplinary action and refer where warranted criminal cases to the police to prosecute those who have contravened the law which has resulted in COVID responses to risk being affected in ways that have resulted in violation of people’s rights.”
The five companies that are implicated were awarded tenders in the Department of Education.
Provincial Treasury MEC Mlungisi Mvoko’s Spokesperson, Mzukisi Solani, says they expect a detailed report from the affected department.
“After careful verification, the number of those companies has decreased to five. Further investigations will continue and ultimately action will be taken against corrupt officials.”
Political analyst Dr Nkosikhulule Nyembezi says the damage that has been done during this period is of concern.
“What is so sad is that most of the damage caused is irremediable. Imagine tens of thousands of lives that are negatively affected because of corruption. It is time to act now because many lives are suffering.”
The office of the Premier has also extended an invitation for people to report wrongdoing.