DA calls on SIU to investigate Mpumalanga ‘Covid-preneurs’

A health worker wearing Personal Protective Equipment (PPE) gear. Image used for illustrative purpose. (Photo by Punit PARANJPE / AFP).

The party says some government departments in the province paid R1,624.75 for 25L sanitisers, while others paid R4,590 each.

The Democratic Alliance (DA) has called on the Premier of Mpumalanga, Refilwe Mtsweni-Tsipane, and the Special Investigations Unit (SIU) to urgently “investigate Mpumalanga Covid-preneurs who are milking departments dry”.

DA Mpumalanga MPL Jane Sithole said the “Covid-prenuers” should also be punished.

“A recent Provincial Procurement Disclosure Report for the first quarter of 2020/2021 released by provincial Treasury shows just how the purchase of surgical masks, thermometers, Vodacom tablets, food parcels and branded umbrellas became a breeding ground for Covid-19 corruption by the various Mpumalanga government departments’ through highly inflated figures.

“There were a lot of variations in the prices of items between different government departments in the province. Whilst some departments paid roughly R1,200 to R1,800 for digital non-contact thermometers, the majority paid R2,527 and upwards per unit. And while some paid R1,624.75 for 25L sanitisers, others paid R4,590 each,” said Sithole.

She gave a breakdown of some of the provincial departments which had inflated spending:

Breakdown of some of the provincial departments

“We call on Premier Mtshweni-Tsipane to ensure that there are stricter reporting lines on the use of Covid-19 funds. Given the difference in prices paid for the same items by different departments, we call for a general pricing list and stricter enforcement of the Public Finance Management Act (PFMA) regulations.

“The DA also calls on the SIU to investigate the departments mentioned above and their accounting officers to determine if they were involved in any looting of Covid-19 funds, and the guilty should be punished to the full extent of the law.

“Due to the provincial government’s failure to root out corruption these past 26 years, it has harboured the conditions for this irregular expenditure.

“We were promised that Covid-19 funds were not going to be misappropriated. It is disappointing that five months after the lockdown was first announced, we have to call an investigation into how these funds were spent.”

(Compiled by Makhosandile Zulu)

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