Five important takeaways from David Makhura's briefing on PPE tender irregularities
Gauteng premier David Makhura briefed the media on Thursday during a weekly command council briefing about Covid-19 in the province.
He began by addressing the investigations into alleged PPE tender irregularities in the province. The premier described the allegations as the biggest financial scandal since he took over in 2014.
Makhura said he wants officials found guilty of wrongdoing to be held accountable.
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Centralisation of PPE
The premier said the centralisation of the acquisition of PPE was a measure to prevent irregularities, including the overpricing of goods.
“The centralisation for PPE in our province was to ensure that the standard PPE must be acceptable, because many departments outside health didn’t know as it’s not their daily work. It was to get department of health to help other departments to get PPE of the appropriate standard and quality and to make sure there’s not going to be overcharging.”
The allegations have eroded public trust
Makhura said the corruption allegations have tainted his efforts to lead a clean government.
“Given our track record in improving audit outcomes and transparency, and accountability as shown by the reports by the auditor-general, these allegations have profoundly eroded public confidence in the government I have the honour to lead.
“The allegations have undermined the work done by various sectors, our health care workers across the province in the fight against Covid-19.”
Some companies were flagged
The premier said the Gauteng Audit Services (GAS) detected abuse of procurement processes by some companies.
“One of the things identified by audit services was that purchase orders were just being issued to various companies. What you have seen in the media, those amounts issued to different companies is purchase orders. It’s not the money paid to the companies.”
Companies under investigation
Makhura said payments to about 91 companies were initially halted during investigations into their credibility. He said this was due to poor quality PPE and failure to deliver. There are now 102 companies under investigation.
“Gauteng Treasury advised the department of health not to pay these companies. At the advice of our Treasury, an amount of R1bn which could have been paid to those companies was stopped. Yes, some amounts were paid prior to appointing the special investigation unit.”
PPE must empower health care workers
The premier emphasised that he was not implying that all companies under investigation were guilty of wrongdoing, as the probe would determine which were culpable.
He said the provision of PPE to health care workers was to ensure they are protected in their fight against Covid-19.
“PPE is very important for our front line workers, it is meant to protect them and empower them to be able to do their work. It was not meant for the loot. It was not meant as an opportunity to open up as a front for looting.”