Parliament, Thursday, 4 February 2021 – The Portfolio Committee on Defence and Military Veterans is seriously concerned by the lack of planning and disregard for regulatory rules and regulation in the procurement of Heberon ® Alfa R (Heberon), which contains the active ingredient interferon alpha 2b, procured for approximately R260,59 million by the Department of Defence.
As a result, the committee has resolved to invite the Chief of the South African Military Health Service Surgeon-General Lieutenant-General Zola Dabula, the Chief Financial Officer Mr Siphiwe Sokhela, the Chief of Logistics Lieutenant-General Jabulani Mbuli and the South African Health Products Regulatory Authority (Sahpra) to further understand the reasons behind the procurement of Heberon.
“To say we are shocked is an understatement and we need accountability on how such large consignments could be procured outside of the rules and regulations set out to ensure safety, transparency and good governance and that there was value for money,” said Mr Cyril Xaba, the Chairperson of the committee.
The committee yesterday received a special audit report on the financial management of Covid-19 funds by the Department of Defence from the Auditor-General, which highlighted shortcomings such as non-submission of information that resulted in a number of audit limitations, inadequate planning for the procurement of Heberon, without indication of how the department determined the required quantities, lack of evidence of prior approval by the South African Health Products Regulatory Authority (Sahpra) for the importation of Heberon, and no post-importation testing and breach of cold-chain requirements, which resulted in approximately 40% of vials’ integrity being possibly compromised.
This, according to the committee, is an indictment to the department’s procurement processes and those responsible must be held accountable for the lapse. Also, the committee finds it unacceptable that the contract used during procurement did not specify the quantity of Heberon required and was only signed after the first delivery had taken place. “These discrepancies are the reasons why we must investigate this matter further to get to the bottom of the matter,” Mr Xaba said.
The committee concerns are in the context of ensuring good governance and prudent spending of taxpayers resources, especially in a department that perpetually complains about inadequate financial resources.
Despite this, the committee welcomed the findings that there were no discrepancies in relation to the allowances paid to the deployed forces (regular and reserve members), as well as the salaries of reserve force members for the period 1 April to 31 July 2020. Furthermore, the committee welcomed the audit of the Wuhan repatriation mission, which focused on reviewing the procurement process for the flight and the recording of the related costs in the department's books, which identified no significant findings.
The committee has committed to get to the bottom of the matter urgently.
ISSUED BY THE PARLIAMENTARY COMMUNICATION SERVICES ON BEHALF OF THE CO-CHAIRPERSONS OF THE JOINT STANDING COMMITTEE ON DEFENCE, MR CYRIL XABA AND MR MAMAGASE NCHABELENG
For media enquiries or interviews with the Chairperson, please contact the committee’s Media Officer:
Name: Malatswa Molepo (Mr)
Parliamentary Communication Services
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