The Standing Committee on Finance and the Select Committee on Finance have heard that on various occasions the National Treasury has issued three instruction notes and circulars to national and provincial departments, as well as municipalities to guide procurement processes following the declaration of a state of disaster in the face of the Covid-19 pandemic.

The National Treasury said this during a virtual joint meeting of the committees yesterday. The department was invited by the committees to brief them on Covid-19-related government procurement processes. It further issued an instruction that it must be notified by provincial departments and local municipalities on a monthly basis about the procurement of personal protection equipment (PPE) of more than R1 million.

The committees decided on 28 July 2020 to meet with the National Treasury in light of the wide-ranging corruption allegations involving procurement of PPE.

The Co-Chairperson Mr Joe Maswanganyi said that internal audit committees in national, provincial and municipal government should pro-actively audit Covid-19-related procurements on regular basis, in order to curb corrupt practices.

Mr Maswanganyi was responding to the Director-General, Mr Dondo Mogajane, who said that the National Treasury does have enough capacity to reach all government corners to monitor and enforce compliance to the regulations. Mr Mogajane said the Public Finance Management Act (PFMA) provides mechanisms to hold accountable senior officials at different levels of government.

“Individual departments should hold accountable their own accounting officers who flaunt the regulations by issuing contracts to service providers whose prizes far exceed those published by the National Treasury,” said Mr Mogajane.

Mr Mojagane further said that National Treasury has set in motion the process to introduce a new Procurement Bill, in addition to a review of the PFMA and the Municipal Finance Management Act (MFMA). This review will focus on strengthening procurement procedures and accountability.

Meanwhile, the committees believe that not all service providers with state contracts are corrupt. They paid homage to those service providers who are honest with the state in their business dealings. They also expressed a word of gratitude to all the frontline workers and public servants who are working relentlessly to fight the pandemic.

“Government officials who are in the network of corrupt service providers should be isolated and brought to book,” said Mr Maswanganyi.

He reiterated that corruption allegations should not be used to condemn broad-based black economic empowerment, and that every rand spent by the state should be circulated within the country in order to create jobs.

The committees will invite the Solidarity Fund, relevant law enforcement agencies and the National Treasury to engage further on the procurement of Covid-19 PPE.

The National Treasury will also meet with finance members of executive committees in all nine provinces to discuss procurement of PPE with regards to the lists of service providers that were awarded contracts, their management composition, as well as period of existence. It will then report back to the committees on the outcomes of the meeting within 10 days.

Justice Molafo

6 August 2020