We'll leave no stone unturned, says Scopa on Covid-19 looting
Parliament's standing committee on public accounts (Scopa) has warned government officials that it will go after those caught looting public funds during the emergency procurement of goods and services to curb the spread of Covid-19.
IFP MP and Scopa chair Mkhuleko Hlengwa said this week the public finance watchdog will scrutinise every government financial transaction related to Covid-19 expenditure and enforcing the national lockdown as soon as parliament reconvenes.
Hlengwa said that while deviations and diversions from competitive bidding processes are allowed during a state of national disaster, stipulations of the Public Finance Management Act and National Treasury regulations still have to be followed in procuring coronavirus-related services and goods.
The government is spending billions of rands urgently as it tackles the national crisis sparked by the spread of the virus. Hlengwa said Scopa will have to work with other parliamentary portfolio committees to ensure all government departments are held accountable for spending.
“Obviously as Scopa we will focus on the big expenditure line items and expect portfolio committees to do the rest. We will leave no stone unturned and I hope that serves as a warning to all those that have an appetite for corruption that we are going to focus on this,” he said.
Parliament is currently on shutdown but MPs, who are categorised as essential service workers, are on standby to travel to Cape Town should an urgent sitting be called.
DA interim leader John Steenhuisen has called on speaker Thandi Modise to institute a special ad hoc committee on Covid-19.
Modise is yet to announce her decision on Steenhuisen's proposal.
At the same time, DA health spokesperson Siviwe Gwarube wants the health portfolio committee to hold regular virtual oversight meetings with health minister Zweli Mkhize and his senior officials.
Parliament's spokesperson Moloto Mothapo said the institution has the capacity to hold virtual oversight committee meetings but warned this could distract ministers from dealing with the national crisis.