South Africans outraged by reported government corruption amid COVID-19

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South African President Cyril Ramaphosa visits the coronavirus disease (COVID-19) treatment facilities at the NASREC Expo Centre in Johannesburg, South Africa April 24, 2020. Jerome Delay/REUTERS/File Photo
South African President Cyril Ramaphosa visits the coronavirus disease (COVID-19) treatment facilities at the NASREC Expo Centre in Johannesburg, South Africa April 24, 2020. Jerome Delay/REUTERS/File Photo

Alleged corruption in the procurement of goods and services in fighting the coronavirus pandemic “has caused outrage among South Africans and among us in the executive,” President Cyril Ramaphosa said on Thursday.

It was disgraceful that companies and individuals sought to benefit from efforts to save peoples’ lives, Ramaphosa said in a virtual Q&A session in parliament.

Ramaphosa vowed to strengthen the role of the Special Investigations Unit and other law enforcement agencies in preventing, detecting investigating and prosecuting those involved in corruption.

He was speaking amid reports of alleged corruption within the government and the ruling African National Congress (ANC) in relation with tenders for COVID-19 services.

Tenders for COVID-19 personal protective equipment allegedly have been given to individuals and companies associated with ANC leaders and government officials.

While most public servants are dedicated, diligent and law abiding, “we nevertheless find that such practices are found in all spheres of government and in many public entities,” Ramaphosa said.

“The measures that we are taking will definitely lead to procurement reform that will ensure that we find solutions to the many procurement maladies, including corruption, and ensure that government does not overpay for goods & services and gets value for money,” the president said.

A critical part of efforts to root out all corruption — both in the public and private sectors — has been to rebuild the law enforcement agencies, to restore their integrity and credibility, and to provide them with the means to act against corruption, said the president.

Ramaphosa said a “new dawn” is coming in the fight against corruption.

He was apparently referring to the publication of a full list of all companies who have been awarded contracts for the supply of goods and services related with the COVID-19 pandemic.

The list, published by the government on Wednesday, is designed to ensure transparency and accountability regarding the COVID-19 procurement process.

By publishing the list, the government has honored its promise to the South African people to enable proper scrutiny of the details of all companies who have received tenders for COVID-19 related services.

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