Parliament to consider request to probe alleged Covid-19 corruption

Call from opposition parties could see Ramaphosa answer crucial questions

03 August 2020 - 20:11 By ANDISIWE MAKINANA
The DA and the EFF want parliament to investigate alleged corruption linked to SA's battle against Covid-19.
The DA and the EFF want parliament to investigate alleged corruption linked to SA's battle against Covid-19.
Image: Esa Alexander

National Assembly speaker Thandi Modise is considering requests by opposition MPs for parliament investigate Covid-19 related expenditure.

The DA and the EFF want parliament to investigate alleged corruption linked to SA's battle against the coronavirus - and for President Cyril Ramaphosa to account for the allegations made against ANC members who have allegedly benefited from the looting.

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EFF chief whip Floyd Shivambu wrote to Modise requesting the establishment of a special committee that would investigate alleged corruption committed in the procurement of protective personal equipment (PPE), food parcels and other Covid-19 related expenses.

DA leader John Steenhuisen requested Modise to schedule a debate of urgent matter of national public importance on corruption related to Covid-19 tenders.

Steenhuisen wants Ramaphosa to be summoned to participate in the debate to answer for the behaviour of his party’s members and set out exactly how he intends to act against each implicated individual.

“The feeding frenzy over Covid-19 related tenders among ANC-connected individuals is a filthy stain on our country in this time of crisis,” said Steenhuisen on Saturday, adding that it was entirely predictable. 

Steenhuisen called on Ramaphosa to act against implicated individuals - not only because it is the right thing to do but because he promised the nation four months ago that any such corruption would be met with strong action.

“On March 23, the president stood on national television and solemnly vowed to South Africans that profiteering from the Covid-19 pandemic would not be tolerated - and that anyone who did so would face serious consequences,” he said.

The DA leader said the matter was of public importance as the economy was being decimated under the country's hard lockdown, shedding jobs and opportunities at an unprecedented rate.

He said the governing party and those connected to its elite could not be allowed to repurpose a national state of disaster as a means of self-enrichment when the lives and livelihoods of ordinary South Africans were in immediate danger.

“The president must address this insidious corruption as a matter of urgency because while tenderpreneurs linked to the governing party are profiting from a national pandemic, ordinary South Africans have lost all means to support themselves and feed their families as a result.”

Parliament is on a winter break but Steenhuisen told TimesLIVE that with the hybrid system, where a few MPs physically attend plenary sessions while the rest connect on virtual platforms, it would be extremely easy for Modise to convene a session.

Parliament spokesperson Moloto Mothapo said Modise was considering the two requests and would revert to the DA and the EFF in due course.