Northern Cape Premier Zamani Saul has said he does not engage in the “piggish plunder of public resources”, slamming an article which appeared in the Sunday Times linking him to personal protective equipment (PPE) tender fraud.
“I want to mention upfront that I don’t engage in piggish plunder of public resources. I have great respect for my fiduciary role as premier of the province,” Saul said in a statement released on Sunday, following the publication of the article.
The Sunday Times published an exposé detailing alleged dodgy PPE tenders within government.
It said Saul had been dragged into the scandal following allegations that the wife of his special advisor was awarded a R13-million tender to supply the police with masks.
But Saul came out in firm denial of these allegations, saying he was never involved in dodgy procurement processes for the benefit of certain people.
“The insinuations in the article are mired in serious untruths and are devoid of any substance,” said Saul.
He added: “At no point was I involved or tried to influence the procurement processes in the department of health or the South African Police Service (SAPS) for the benefit of certain individuals.
“Worse, I do not have any role in the management of the SAPS and how they issue tender, as SAPS is national competency (sic).”
He further denied allegations levelled against him by an anonymous source who said Somandla Christopher Sibisi was a close friend of Saul’s.
Sibisi is the owner of a company who allegedly received a tender worth over R27 million despite being in the process of deregistration, the Sunday Times article stated.
Saul instead said he related to Sibisi as a “business person”.
“I don’t have a close friend called Somandla Sibisi and I challenge anybody with information to the contrary to come to the fore.
“I relate to him like any other business person in the province, which in most cases I meet at ANC events and state of province addresses. I don’t have any business, personal or professional dealings with him,” Saul said.
On the alleged contract awarded to the wife of his special advisor, Saul said he had picked the matter up on social media.
“To loosely insinuate that I had any role in the awarding of the tender without a shred of evidence is gutter journalism.
“I have on various platforms spoken strongly against corruption. It is therefore very distasteful that a matter as serious as this is used to launch an unwarranted attack on my person and integrity.”
He added that he did not understand where he fit into the matter.
“Mr Norman Shushu, the husband to Mrs Shushu, is my personal advisor, but I still don’t understand where I fit in this matter.
“If the alleged tender was awarded by SAPS in an unlawful manner, the matter must be reported to the law enforcement agencies and the law must take its course. Grasping at straws in an attempt to create a link between myself and the awarding of the tender is actually silly and driven by ulterior motives.”
Saul said he was “amongst the first” to support President Cyril Ramaphosa’s call to publicly declare PPE procurement, saying he has put on record that he called for a full disclosure of all procurement.
Following this call, the Northern Cape government presented a “detailed” report of Covid-19 expenditure.
“This is all due to the fact that there is nothing to hide from my side,” Saul maintained.
“It is fair to be subjected to public scrutiny as public servants. But making reckless allegations which are bereft of any substance and not backed by a shred of evidence against individuals will endanger our difficult and rightful course against corruption,” Saul said.
He added that since the start of the sixth administration, his government implemented “far-reaching” measures to cut wasted expenditure and corruption. This led to a R200-million saving for the province in under a year.
“I’m quite aware of the fact that there are individuals that are deeply unhappy about these measures and busy with a serious pushback campaign. This attack is just one of those instalments of the pushback campaign to soil my reputation.
“I will not be deterred by this witch hunt and blackmail, the work to serve the people of [the] Northern Cape honestly and transparently will seamlessly continue. Let me assure the people of the Northern Cape that if there is anything untoward with any of the Covid-19-related tenders issued to the 175 companies, there will be serious consequences for all those involved,” Saul said.