'Every cent' of R1.19bn spent in Eastern Cape's Covid-19 fight to be accounted for

11 August 2020 - 08:14 By Asanda Nini
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Finance MEC Mlungisi Mvoko. File photo.
Finance MEC Mlungisi Mvoko. File photo.
Image: Randell Roskruge

Every single cent of the R1.19bn spent on buying personal protective equipment and hospital beds in the fight against the spread of Covid-19 in the Eastern Cape will be accounted for.

This was the promise from finance MEC Mlungisi Mvoko on Monday. He also vowed that where required legal prescripts were not followed, action would be taken.

Through the provincial treasury, the province is investigating a number of complaints relating to the use of taxpayers’ money in the fight against Covid-19.

These include the leasing of a lodge belonging to transport, safety and liaison MEC Weziwe Tikana-Gxothiwe’s daughter in Cala as a quarantine site, allegedly without processes being followed.

Mvoko said some of the investigations were close to being completed.

Although it is still early to release information relating to the actual investigations, we can report that there are preliminary findings, but these are engaged with relevant institutions to ascertain certain governance matters, and once comprehensively responded to, we will then provide an updated report.

Our plan is to start providing reports on completed investigations by the end of August.

We must, however, also indicate that similar mandates [to investigate Covid-19 spending] have also been given to the auditor-general and the Special Investigating Unit, with immediate focus being to identify the transactions that are additional to normal procurement for review, Mvoko said.

We are co-ordinating with other law enforcement agencies to avoid duplication, but our investigations will ensure that all transactions triggered by Covid-19 in the province will be reviewed for compliance with prescripts.

Mvoko was hopeful that those who seek to exploit the state will be brought to book” and urged anyone to report any corrupt activities to his department or the police.

Mvoko said the R1.1bn spent was for procurement by the 14 provincial departments, while R8m worth of PPE was procured by public entities in the province.

As expected, the health department accounted for the bulk of the expenditure with R628m spent between March and July 22, while the education department had ordered PPE worth R545m, transport R5.9m, social development R3.8m, with the rural development agency purchasing PPE amounting to R3.6m, so far.

Mvoko said R28m was used to buy hospital beds, R197m for gowns, R185m for digital body thermometers, R249m to buy different kinds of face masks and more than R194m was spent on sanitisers and other disinfectants.

Of the 611 service providers appointed for PPE-related procurement, Mvoko said, 497 were suppliers from the province who had benefited by more than R875m.

In response to the Covid-19 pandemic, the provincial government has embarked on the programme for the repairs, renovations and refurbishment of various health facilities across the province.

As at end July, the province had awarded 83 projects to the total value of R582m.

“A total of 79 contracts, which constitutes 95.2%, were awarded to Eastern Cape-based service providers to a total value of R525m, Mvoko said.

When the coronavirus arrived in SA in March, all government departments and state entities were afforded an opportunity to conduct procurement without preapproval by provincial treasuries, though they were required to submit reports periodically on contracts above R1m.

To keep track of their spending patterns, Mvoko said, details relating to Covid-19 procurement would regularly be made public.

He said this was done to maintain accountability, transparency and ethical behaviour in the province.

In a statement, premier Oscar Mabuyane’s spokesperson, Mvusiwekhaya Sicwetsha, released a list of companies that have been awarded construction projects by the health department.

The list contained names of the companies, the value of the contracts they were awarded and the hospital or clinic where the project was located, but not what items were bought for the money or in what quantities.


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