‘Fire all corrupt ministers and MECs now!’ demands Cosatu

Cosatu workers march - picture for illustrative purposes. Photo: Ashraf Hendricks

Cosatu says if government really wants to prove they are serious about tackling corruption, they must fire all ministers, MECs and other public officials involved in corruption and financial malfeasance, and fast track legal prosecutions.

In the strongest call since the outbreak of the Gauteng PPE scandal, Cosatu has demanded that cabinet ministers and all public representatives whose departments are implicated in acts of corruption and wasteful expenditure be fired.

The ANC-aligned labour federation said the politicians and their families should be banned from participating in state tenders, and for procurement of personal protective equipment (PPE) to be centralised to the National Treasury.

If Cosatu’s call for dismissal of politicians for wasteful expenditure became a reality, it means several ministers, MECs, and a large number of mayors would lose their jobs.

In a strongly-worded statement, Cosatu parliamentary coordinator, Matthew Parks said: “Government must now show leadership. The mass anarchy that has come to characterise governance in South Africa must end, millions of workers’ lives and jobs depend upon it.”

The union umbrella also suggested expeditious criminal prosecution of the culprits.

“Establish rapid response courts to tackle corruption (as done during the 2010 Soccer World Cup), finalise and fast track the passage of the Public Procurement Bill; and compel Treasury and relevant departments to report fortnightly on these interventions to parliament and the public,” said Parks.

Parks said if government was serious about fighting corruption it must act now by closing the loopholes in the state tender system.

“Government needs to move with speed to halt the rot in the procurement of PPEs and send a message to the public that it is serious about tackling the cancer of corruption. The state must immediately, centralise the public procurement of PPE for the entire state under National Treasury; only award PPE procurement contracts to local and legally compliant manufacturers,” said Parks.

The details of all PPE contracted awarded should be published and government must “ban politicians and their immediate families from state tenders”.

“Audit all PPE tenders and prosecute those who have broken the law, exercise the full powers of the Auditing Amendment Act to hold offending politicians and officials personally financially liable for corruption and wasteful expenditure under their watch,” he said.

Parks said Cosatu had repeatedly raised to the government the massive loopholes in the public procurement of PPE which has resulted in industrial-scale looting as well as the supply of shoddy PPE, and the danger that this posed in the lives of thousands of public health workers and their families, with some already having died as a result.

His call came as parliament summoned National Treasury to account for the countrywide PPE crisis involving widespread corruption by ANC-aligned individuals. Finance Minister Tito Mboweni and his treasury officials are expected to appear before the finance portfolio committee on Wednesday afternoon.

Recently Mboweni called on all provincial health MECs to publish the list of all firms awarded PPE contracts in their provinces. This was enthusiastically welcomed by the opposition politicians, on the same day they rejected his suggestion that all public representatives must take salary cuts.

The Ramaphosa administration has been hit by waves of scandals since the outbreak of Covid-19 pandemic. Most prominent among these are those involving Gauteng health MEC Dr Bandile Masuku, his wife Loyiso, and President Cyril Ramaphosa’s spokesperson Khusela Diko’s husband, Chief Thandisizwe Diko. Diko’s company was awarded a R125-million contract from the provincial health department, with the chief denying any wrongdoing.

In the same breath, two sons of former Free State premier Ace Magashule reportedly obtained PPE contracts from the provincial government. The ANC in the province saw nothing wrong with Magashule’s sons doing business with government, saying their father was no longer a public representative, despite the fact that Magashule currently occupies an influential position as secretary-general of the governing party.

– ericn@citizen.co.za

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