Tuesday, 28 May, 2024
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SIU Covid corruption probes plod on with little action

The updated, ‘Third Final Report’ by the Special Investigating Unit (SIU) into Covid-related corruption reveals the mammoth scale of the brazen plundering and looting: it reports probing 5 513 contracts given to 3 058 service providers, with irregularities, thus far, having been identified in 2 965 contracts – hovering around R8.8bn.

And yet no heads have rolled, and little action has been taken.

Much of the latest report recaps investigations, outcomes and recommendations covered in its eight earlier reports under Proclamation R23.

But, writes Mark Heywood in Daily Maverick, some of the latest findings on the matters that have been finalised confirm suspicions raised from investigations conducted in 2020.

In particular, he writes, “we were the first to raise the alarm about the construction of four new field ICU hospitals built using alternative building technology (ABT): their cost, the process by which contractors were appointed, and delays in their construction, which meant they were still unfinished for the first two major waves of Covid.”

Investigating a complaint by former Gauteng Premier David Makhura, the SIU has found that the Principal Submitting Person – the architect responsible for overseeing the project – was not lawfully appointed, that: “no proper selection process was followed under section 217 of the Constitution in that only one service provider was approached by the Gauteng Department of Infrastructure Development…”.

However, after scrutiny of each of the ABT contracts, the SIU found three of the four were properly fulfilled within time-frames and adjusted budgets and that the hospitals were built.

Concerning Kopanong Hospital, it found “fruitless and wasteful expenditure” totalling more than R44m “as the building is incomplete and abandoned”.

There is an ongoing civil action between Condocor (Pty) Ltd, the contractor, and Gauteng Health, and on this basis, it will await the outcome “to determine possible future action” to recover the monies.

It also recommends “disciplinary steps … against then acting HoD: Gauteng DID (R Makhumisani) and the then SCM manager of Gauteng DID …for the contract for construction of Kopanong Hospital”.

These latest findings mean that, including the nearly R500m wasted on upgrading the Ashanti Gold hospital, more than R750m has been blown by Gauteng Health on new or refurbished hospitals that were never to be.

The SIU also notes that:

• 456 referrals for disciplinary action have been made to government departments… but few have been acted on.
• 476 referrals have been made to “the relevant prosecuting authority” – it is unknown how many are being pursued.

The report also raises questions about the capacity of the Special Tribunal, whose work is frequently being hampered by legal challenges to its authority: it has only one full-time judge, and of the five other judges assigned to it, only two are apparently active on the Tribunal.

This should concern South Africa. It poses a real danger that officials found to have been involved in corrupt activities may never face legal or even disciplinary action, and that monies may never be recovered.

Although irregularities worth R8.8bn have so far been found by the SIU under Proclamation R23, the value of matters enrolled at the Tribunal is less than R2.5bn. The rand value of cash and/or assets actually recovered so far is a mere R36m.

PPE looting

The report also updates earlier findings on a contract worth R596m with Mainstreet Africa 699 (Pty) Ltd, for the supply of PPE to the SA Police Service (SAPS) that “was unlawful” because it was an “unsolicited proposal” by a company that is not a sole supplier of medical products and because procurement processes were disregarded.

However, the SIU report itself is unusual because it departs from its regular format and contains no recommendations for future action, “noting” only that “Mr B Qwabe, director of Mainstreet … was offered a platform by the SIU to give his account of what transpired with the contract but opted not to use the opportunity”.

Daily Maverick believes this means this investigation, involving the most expensive PPE contract of the entire pandemic, is one of the 9.8% of matters the SIU reports have still not completed.

 

SIU report (Open access)

 

Daily Maverick article – R8bn and counting: That’s the cost of Covid-related corruption, says updated SIU report (Open access)

 

See more from MedicalBrief archives:

 

SIU report reveals massive scale of looting from COVID-relief funds

 

Fired Gauteng Health MEC fails to overturn SIU report on COVID deals

 

SIU probes health-related fraud worth billions

 

Gauteng drops costly Ashanti COVID hospital deal

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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