Alleged corruption within the ruling ANC took centre stage in the nation’s political arena yesterday, with former eThekwini mayor Zandile Gumede being asked to step aside from her new role as an MPL.
This as the ANC national executive committee is set for a weekend of intense meetings where the issue of corruption and fraud within party ranks is expected to be hotly debated.
While Gumede was asked to step aside until such time as she can appear before the provincial ANC Integrity Committee, she will still receive her salary of R100 000 a month as an MPL.
Gumede was sworn as in as an MPL last week, drawing huge criticism from the opposition and the public, particularly because President Cyril Ramaphosa has taken a public stance against corruption within the party since allegations of fraud and corruption in connection with Covid-19 tenders erupted.
This week, the National Treasury released the names of companies and details of Covid-19 tenders across all provinces and which are available for public scrutiny.
While Gumede has no allegations related to any Covid-10 tenders, she is out on bail after her arrest over alleged involvement in a multimillion-rand solid waste tender.
Yesterday, ANC provincial secretary Mdumiseni Ntuli confirmed that the party’s provincial deputy chairperson, Mike Mabuyakhulu, was stepping aside from his position, in connection with the 2012 North Sea Jazz Festival which did not take place, yet R28 million was spent in which he stands as co-accused.
Ntuli said it was important the ANC could “self-correct” and show they are “listening to society”.
“All comrades who are charged are directed to step aside from their responsibilities immediately, both from the movement and the state,” he said.
When contacted for comment, Gumede said: “They did not say as an MPL, but they only said as RTT (regional task team member) and I am still an MPL,” before hanging up.
Ntuli said he and KZN Premier Sihle Zikalala, as mandated by the provincial executive committee (PEC), would join the NEC meeting to discuss “how to deal with the cases of comrades who are implicated in one form or another in some scandals that have a potential to tarnish the image of the ANC”, but who have not yet been charged or found guilty by a court of law.
With regard to companies being awarded Covid-19 tenders in KZN, Zikalala said in his report on the province’s Covid-19-related expenditure, emergency procurement was “always going to present risks” and officials from the Department of Social Development had been suspended, and were being referred for criminal investigations.
With a spend of close to R3 billion by July 27 for Covid-related costs, provincial departments spent R1 999 738 490, while municipalities have spent R925 million and public entities R4m.
Overall, across all KZN departments’ expenditure, there was a wide fluctuation in prices for different Covid-related equipment.
Thermometers ranged from R1 000 to R2 600, although the Department of Transport managed to buy temperature scanners at R585. Thermometers are available online from R299.
The Department of Co-operative Governance and Traditional Affairs spent more than 40% of its R1.4m budget with the SABC for two radio ads for Covid-19 interviews on April 1 and May 5, costing R266 000 and R329 000.
The average price for masks was R25, with the Department of Health sourcing them for R15, while the Department of Social Development bought consignments of surgical masks in March from three companies: 3 000 masks at R60 each, 8 500 masks for R51.75 each and 4 500 masks at R55 each.
It also spent R2.4m on flushable toilet seat wipes.
As expected, the biggest spend was by the Provincial Department of Health, including infrastructure upgrades at seven hospitals at a cost of R1.39 billion, or 57% of the budget, with the most (R313m) spent on Clairwood Hospital. These upgrades, as Zikalala pointed out, would have a long-term benefit for KZN.
The province has also requested more details on some expenditure by the Department of Economic Development, Tourism and Environmental Affairs regarding the purchase of 124 pairs of cargo trousers, work trousers and jackets, as well as more detail on more than R300 000 spent on virus protection screens, presumably being IT-related, as this cost was listed with software and implementation costs of R420 000.
The Department of Sports and Recreation has been asked to provide detail on the purchase of 50 sports equipment packs at R4 023.85 each, totalling just over R200 000.
The Department of Agricultural and Rural Development ordered 4 500 nose muffs, which cost R84.55 each, totalling R380 475.
The Office of the Premier spent almost R300 000 on catering for the command team on 14 occasions, covering 1 315 meals at an average of R224 a head. The smallest function was for 35 people, while the remainder were for 80, 100, and two for 160 people – which would appear to contravene lockdown regulations.
While most arts and culture operations would have been closed, the department spent nearly R500 000 on thermometers from two companies, neither of which appear to have an online presence.
The extensive list of companies which received KZN Covid-19 tenders included well-known names, some that are less known and do not have an online presence, while others clearly diversified their main trading business to move into personal protective equipment (PPE) supply.
The Education Department, having a huge number of schools to cater to and requiring substantially more PPE and items such as social distancing markers and thermometers, was also one of the big spenders at R487m. It bought more than 23 000 thermometers for 6 178 schools, totalling R47 278 110, with an average price per thermometer being R2 055.
The department also spent R1 715 364 on storage, decanting, transportation, labelling and distribution of donated sanitiser.
The most cost-conscious department was the Provincial Treasury, which spent R898 692, the highest bill, for additional security, at just over R47 000.
-The Independent on Saturday
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