‘Ministerial Committee on tender corruption will not upstage law enforcement’

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Government has sought to clarify the role of the Ministerial Committee appointed to deal with corruption in the procurement of personal protective equipment (PPE).

It says the committee, chaired by Justice and Correctional Services Minister Ronald Lamola, will not upstage or undermine the powers of law enforcement agencies.

President Cyril Ramaphosa appointed a committee comprising of six ministries including Police, Finance and Cooperative Governance among others.

The COVID-19 pandemic in South Africa has caused what many have described as the “shameless tender bonanza” and President Cyril Ramaphosa has since appointed a committee to focus on all coronavirus-related contracts.

”President Cyril Ramaphosa has, following a decision taken by Cabinet at its meeting of Wednesday, 5 August 2020, appointed a committee of Ministers to deal with allegations of corruption associated with the country’s response to the coronavirus pandemic. To assist the committee in its assessment of COVID-19-related procurement, President Ramaphosa has requested all Ministers and Premiers to provide information on the names of companies and details of tenders and contracts that have been awarded in national departments, provincial governments and public entities during the period of the National State of Disaster,” says Tyrone Seale, Acting Presidential Spokesperson.

Below is a discussion on the President’s new Ministerial Committee:

Some legal experts are skeptical, saying the committee has no legal basis.

Advocate Tembeka Ngcukaitobi says a committee like that will create a perception of interfering in the work of law enforcement agencies.

”I don’t support the decision. The problem specifically with this Cabinet committee is two-fold, firstly it has no legal basis for its establishment. There is no law in this country that allows members of the Cabinet to effectively investigate themselves. But there is also another problem that the current independent corruption bodies the NPA, the SIU and the Public Protector are somehow inadequate and they should be subjected to some sort of Cabinet coordination which itself is constitutionally objectionable. The idea of a Cabinet sub-committee coordinating work of independent bodies is inimical to the constitution particularly because it creates the perception of interference with the work of independent bodies,” says Ngcukaitobi.

However, Minister Lamola says contrary to some reports, the committee will not investigate any corruption but will help different law agencies in terms of compiling and publishing details of all COVID-19 related contracts awarded by different government entities.

“The committee is going to order all government departments across the country to publish the list of all those who received or participated in any procurement during this national state of disaster and that is the first step of accountability, transparency and ethical leadership because from that step law enforcement agency, if there is any suspicion, they will have information at hand if there will be any allegation. The law enforcement agency is empowered to act,” says Lamola.

Below is a discussion on the role of COVID-19 inter-ministerial committee: 


However, Economic Freedom Fighters (EFF) leader Julius Malema says such committees and commissions end up nowhere.

“Commissions of Inquiry like courts and all of that when politicians don’t want to something they establish a commission of inquiry then it drags. That’s what they do they buy time with long processes to get you to forget and from there they run away with murder and they never get to be held accountable,” says Malema.

Meanwhile, all government departments are expected to submit all procurement contracts awarded during this period to this committee which will then be published and made accessible to the public.