DA’s INTERIM leader John Steenhuisen says the inter-ministerial committee set up by President Cyril Ramaphosa to probe his own party’s COVID procurement corruption is just window dressing to create the illusion of action.
This comes after Ramaphosa appointed a committee of ministers on Thursday to assess all the government’s COVID19-related procurement.
Justice and Correctional Services Minister Ronald Lamola will chair the six-member Cabinet committee.
The committee will look into corruption linked to COVID-19 tenders, including the procurement of personal protective equipment (PPE).
“This COVID corruption committee will go the same dead-end route as the inter-ministerial bodies that investigated Nkandla and the Gupta landing at Waterkloof, and ended up exonerating every high-ranking ANC cadre. It’s nothing but a whitewashing exercise,” said Steenhuisen.
“Why is this committee centralised in the Presidency? How independent is it? Who will provide oversight over it? What real powers does it have? Could the President not ask Parliament to set up a committee empowered to deal with this corruption scourge?”
The committee of ministers is expected to prepare a comprehensive report for Ramaphosa.
Ramaphosa promised that the findings of the report will be released to the public.
“We call on President Ramaphosa to abandon the empty window dressing of this inter-ministerial committee and focus instead on steps that have real power to stop corruption in its tracks and hold the guilty to account,” said Steenhuisen.
He said on May 25 the DA proposed to Finance Minister Tito Mboweni a Special Inspector-General to prevent the looting of Covid-19 relief funding.
Steenhuisen added that to date the president and his Cabinet have refused to consider this proposal.
The DA specifically proposed that the Special Inspector-General should have the power to:
1. Summon information or assistance from any government department, agency, or other entity at National, Provincial or Local government level. Failure to disclose information within seven days will be regarded as a criminal offence;
2. Direct departments to take immediate action to address deficiencies identified by a report or investigation of the Special Inspector General;
3. Prevent the payment of any monies to, or recall moneys from any individual or entity where the Special Inspector-General finds deficiencies, non-adherence to processes, or potential abuse of power or corruption;
4. Nullify the awarding of tenders and contracts where the Special Inspector-General finds deficiencies, non-adherence to processes, or potential abuse of power or corruption;
5. Investigate the legitimacy of any eligible businesses receiving any state-backed Covid funding;
6. Require an explanation of the reasons the State determined it to be appropriate to procure any goods or services for Covid relief, including a justification of the price paid for, and other financial terms associated with, the applicable transaction; and
7. Prevent and/or terminate procurement where exorbitant pricing is detected.
(COMPILED BY INSIDE POLITICS STAFF)