Political and friendship ties have no bearing in the awarding of tenders. This is according to the Free State Treasury in response to reports that those close to former Free State Premier and current African National Congress (ANC) Secretary-General, Ace Magashule, have benefitted from Personal Protective Equipment (PPE) tenders worth millions in the province.

At least seven companies with links to those close to Magashule have been awarded PPE tenders in the province.

The provincial treasury maintains the procurement processes were followed in line with the instruction notes of the National Treasury for emergency procurement of COVID-19 PPE.

Provincial Chief Director for Assets and Liabilities, Tshepo Mabilo, says nothing prohibits family members of government employees from doing business with the state.

He admits that Tebang Motaung, the son of veteran broadcaster Thuso Motaung, was awarded a R4.7 million tender.

Mabilo says he will have to verify whether Tebang Motaung did in fact declare that his father was a public servant. Motaung senior works in the Office of the Free State Premier.

“Our process did not take any consideration of political relationships that are transpiring in the province or nationally. We only focused on the administration and that processes are followed in that regard.”

Free State Treasury dismisses reports of political connections in awarding of tenders:

Calls for investigation

Meanwhile, the ANC’s alliance partner, the South African Communist Party (SACP), has called for an investigation.

Free State SACP’s first Deputy Provincial Secretary, Teboho Kholoanyane, says those involved in corruption must be prosecuted.

“We condemn all acts of corruption. It will be a sad day that those people who have proximity to the leadership are the ones who would then get tenders. We are, therefore, calling for an investigation. If the investigation can prove that there have been irregular means of awarding tenders, prosecution authorities should then take the matter forward and those people must be prosecuted.”

Democratic Alliance’s Chief Whip in the Free State legislature, David Janse Van Vuuren, says they will launch their own investigations.

“The DA in the Free State Legislature is also investigating the awarding of all contracts regarding COVID-19. We are not just investigating directors, but we are also investigating the core business of these companies. It’s a disgrace to think that there are companies that have got ties with ANC, that are enriching themselves, rather than bringing some relief to the people and businesses in the Free State that’s suffering under the virus.”

The provincial government has released a statement saying that neither the premier nor the MEC for Finance, were involved in PPE tender processes.