The ANC’s business wing, the Progressive Business Forum (PBF), is pushing for its members who help fund the party to secure a cut of the contracts for the vaccine supply chain. Business Maverick reports that the PBF met the ANC’s top leadership including President Cyril Ramaphosa two weeks ago to lobby for a cut of the contracts for the logistics that will get the jab into people’s arms.
The first 1m vaccines arrived on Monday 1 February and there is already a vaccine business race, similar to the personal protective equipment (PPE) race to supply masks, cleaning, sanitisers and medical goods and services.
Business Maverick reports that this turned into the COVID-19 PPE scandal in which R7.5bn was lost to irregular spending, according to the Special Investigating Unit (SIU).
The first three phases of the 40m vaccine dose plan for 2021 are budgeted at R12bn, according to Business for South Africa; the government has pencilled in a total cost of R30bn. The Treasury has raised the possibility of a tax increase.
Business Maverick reports that this is believed to be sufficient to achieve herd immunity and revive the economy.
The PBF is the ANC’s main fundraising wing and it bridges the business community with the governing party through a system of memberships. The memberships range from R3,500 a year to R65,000 a year and offer access to ministers, tailored engagements with policymakers and the ability to “give input” into policymaking workshops.
Business Maverick reports that the first campaign of the PBF in January was to ensure its members lobbied for a slice of vaccine contracts, and its website features articles about the campaign.
Asked whether the vaccine drive should be a business opportunity rather than a national project of public good done voluntarily, Kganki Matabane, the CEO of the Black Business Council said: “I fully agree with the sentiment, but nobody renders a service for free. People took advantage of there not being processes (in the PPE purchases by the state), but now procurement is being centralised.” This cuts out the chancers, he is quoted in the report as saying.
While Broad-Based Black Economic Empowerment (BBBEE) is a constitutional policy that has benefited South Africa, Business Maverick notes that the companies that racked up R7.5bn in dirty PPE deals used the guise of the policy to win contracts.
Investigations by the SIU and the auditor-general from September 2020 revealed that collusion with procurement officials led to the government overpaying by between double and five times the going rates for goods and services.
Full Business Maverick report (Open access)