The ANC has called for an investigation into personal protective equipment (PPE) procurement by the province, with a particular focus on the provincial education department where the party suspects corruption.
This week, Finance and Economic Opportunities MEC David Maynier released the provincial Covid-19 procurement disclosure report for January 2021, which amounted to R66.2 million, of which R66.1m was spent by provincial departments.
Maynier said: “This edition of the report confirms that, to date, R1.9 billion has been committed towards Covid-19-related expenditure across departments and public entities in the 2020/21 financial year in the Western Cape.”
He said: “R907.6m, or 47.2%, of all Covid-19 expenditure by provincial departments and public entities was spent with small, medium and micro-enterprises (SMMEs), which exceeds the national target of 30%.”
Following the publishing of the report, ANC provincial finance spokesperson Nomi Nkondlo questioned why, once again, Masiqhame Trading 1057 CC appeared to get the lion’s share of the Western Cape Eduation Department’s(WCED) Covid-19 spending.
In August 2020, a story in the Argus reported that Masiqhame, an SMME with no website or online presence, received just under half of the R682.5 million that the provincial government spent on PPE just for supplying the WCED.
Yesterday, Nkondlo said: “The ANC is concerned about the seeming capture of the Western Cape Education Department by a single company Masiqhame Trading 1057, that gets preference for the entire department’s expenditure.
“The ANC calls on the SIU to expedite its investigations into this provincial government’s expenditure, so the report can shed light on some of the concerning trends from the province’s Covid-19 spending.”
Asked about the relationship between Masiqhame Trading 1057 and the department, Education MEC Debbie Schäfer said: “The only relationship with the company that I am aware of, is as a supplier of goods. They are registered on the National Treasury’s supplier database, and were awarded a contract via a competitive bidding process.”
She said: “Regarding the investigation by the SIU, they are conducting an investigation with which the department has co-operated fully. The SIU has made no findings against the WCED on the matter.”
Meanwhile, last week ANC education spokesperson Khalid Sayed asked Schäfer about the Auditor-General’s findings against the WCED regarding procurement and any remedial action that had been taken.
Schäfer said: “The AG concluded that there were some findings of irregularities and internal control deficiencies in respect of the supply of PPE. No remedial action was needed since no official contravened any rules.”
“The findings were in relation to the procurement of the cloth masks, the quality of the masks and thermometers, and the lack of guidelines in respect of the storage of the PPE at schools. These findings were based on visits to four (0.2%) of our schools. Similar findings were made for almost all provinces.”
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