Dozens of S.African govt officials probed over Covid contracts
Dozens of South African government officials face prosecution in an unfolding scandal over the award of coronavirus contracts worth a total of around $1 billion, parliament heard Wednesday.
ozens of South African government officials face prosecution in an unfolding scandal over the award of coronavirus contracts worth a total of around $1 billion, parliament heard Wednesday.
President Cyril Ramaphosa ordered the inquiry last year after reports that coronavirus-linked tenders were allegedly handed to politically connected individuals and companies, sparking public outrage.
More than 4,000 contracts for Covid-19 services and supplies have since been reported to South Africa’s Special Investigative Unit (SIU).
In a virtual address to parliament, SIU head Andy Mothibi said the contracts were worth 14 billion rand ($1 billion), around 11 percent of total government spending on the pandemic.
“We are at a critical stage of the investigation,” Mothibi said.
“We are investigating all the allegations,” he added. “The (health) minister has expressed his cooperation.”
Mothibi said that 63 government officials had so far been handed over for prosecution, while 87 companies will be blacklisted.
The unit last week also opened a probe into two of Health Minister Zweli Mkhize’s close associates — a former spokeswoman and his ex-personal assistant — for alleged plundering of Covid-19 funds.
Mkhize has gained popularity through his handling of the pandemic and is touted as one of the potential successors to President Cyril Ramaphosa.
Links to the coronavirus corruption scandals could tarnish his reputation.
Mothibi lamented that the ongoing investigation seems to have failed to make “any material difference” in the government’s “modus operandi”.
“We continue to get new reports of allegations of these maladministrations and irregularities,” he said.