Ramaphosa orders SIU to probe officials, spending linked to Covid-19 state of disaster
President Cyril Ramaphosa has ordered the Special Investigating Unit to probe all government spending linked to the state of disaster declared over the coronavirus pandemic.
And, Ramaphosa states, the SIU must also probe “improper or unlawful conduct” by government employees — including whether this resulted in “any loss, damage or actual or potential prejudice suffered by the state institutions or the state”.
President Cyril Ramaphosa announced that all public schools will be closing again for 4 weeks, ahead of the anticipated Covid-19 peak in South Africa. During an address on July 23 2020, Ramaphosa also stressed zero tolerance on alleged corruption and looting of public relief funds and resources.
In a gazette published on Thursday — signed by Ramaphosa and justice minister Ronald Lamola — the president wants the SIU to conduct a wide-ranging investigation into public money and public officials linked to the declaration of the state of disaster.
According to the gazette, the probe must cover “the procurement of, or contracting for, goods, works and services, including the construction, refurbishment, leasing, occupation and use of immovable property, during, or in respect of the national state of disaster”.
The investigation should also look into payments that were:
- “not fair, competitive, transparent, equitable or cost-effective”;
- “contrary to applicable legislation, manuals, guidelines or other government regulations”;
- “conducted by or facilitated through the improper or unlawful conduct of employees or officials of the state institutions, or any other person or entity, to corruptly or unduly benefit themselves or any other person”; or
- “fraudulent, and any related unauthorised, irregular or fruitless and wasteful expenditure incurred by the state institutions or the state.”
If such behaviour or actions were found, the gazette states, the SIU is empowered to push for the “recovery of any losses suffered”, including civil action to recover such funds.