The Democratic Alliance (DA) welcomes the report presented by the Special Investigating Unit (SIU) yesterday before the Standing Committee on Public Accounts (SCOPA) regarding the alleged irregularities in the procurement of personal protective equipment (PPE) in the Free State.
Following a preliminary investigation last year, the DA had found that companies of the sons of the former Premier of the Free State and suspended ANC Secretary-General Ace Magashule, known as Mtheko Projects, which provided liquid soap and masks, as well as an entity known as Marvel Deeds, which provided hand sanitizers, both benefitted from PPE procurement during the pandemic.
Despite the fact that the SIU found no irregularities with regards to the tenders involving Ace Magashule’s sons, it remains a concern for the DA that Mr Magashule appears to still have his tentacles entrenched in the Free State and one cannot rule out the possibility that he could have influenced the awarding of tenders in the province.
Whilst the MEC for Finance, Gadija Brown, created a reasonable impression that there was no irregularities involving the procurement of PPE in the Free State, the report released by the SIU reveals that there are serious alarm bells citing many instances of irregular supply chain management processes and that some companies could not provide quality or even the correct PPE.
The SIU report also revealed that disciplinary action and criminal action was recommended against an official who may have committed fraud because they misrepresented the price of PPE which was in excess of National Treasury Guidelines. Once again officials in the province are taking the fall on behalf of their political heads. It is time that the MEC for Finance takes responsibility and accountability for what happens in her Department.
The DA will submit further questions to the MEC for Finance to determine how all these irregularities occurred on her watch given the fact that the pubic were assured that there would not be any irregularities in the procurement of PPE and that every cent would be accounted for. If the MEC and her Department cannot get the basics right such as correctly appointing contractors for PPE, then they cannot be serious about successfully managing the finances of the entire Free State.
It is now more important than ever to expose any form of dishonest or fraudulent conduct by those in power, especially when it involves the abuse of state money. The DA will continue to hold the government accountable and ensure that the electorate can make an informed decision ahead of this year’s Local Government Elections