A 'tender is not a blank cheque': Tito Mboweni warns 'game over'

Finance minister Tito Mboweni has condemned those involved in irregular tender processes during the Covid-19 pandemic.
Finance minister Tito Mboweni has condemned those involved in irregular tender processes during the Covid-19 pandemic.
Image: ESA ALEXANDER/SUNDAY TIMES

Finance minister Tito Mboweni has taken a swipe at individuals involved in irregular tender processes during the Covid-19 pandemic.

“A tender is an ethical contract. It is not a blank cheque to deceive and steal. And stealing from unwell people during a Covid-19 pandemic, what kind of people are these criminals?,” Mboweni wrote on his Twitter timeline on Sunday night.

“We should be working together to defeat the virus. Not see this as an opportunity to defraud the state and unwell people. We are watching you and there has to be consequences. For sure. Game over.

“The wrongs being done by unscrupulous thieves must be dealt with decisively. It is time that leadership led without fear, favour or prejudice. Watch the space,” said the minister.

His comments come after reports about tender irregularities during the Covid-19 pandemic.

The Sunday Times reported that deals believed to be worth more than R2.2bn involving emergency purchases of personal protective equipment (PPE) are under scrutiny.

The Special Investigating Unit (SIU) is investigating 90 companies that received contracts from the Gauteng health department. It is also investigating R30m worth of allegedly irregular contracts in KwaZulu-Natal, and others in the Eastern Cape.

In his address to the nation on Thursday evening, President Cyril Ramaphosa announced a collaborative centre which would bring together all law enforcement agencies to deal specifically with crimes related to money set aside to fight the pandemic.

“This centre brings together nine state institutions. These are the Financial Intelligence Centre, the Independent Police Investigative Directorate, the National Prosecuting Authority, the Hawks, Crime Intelligence, the SAPS Detective Service, the SA Revenue Service, the Special Investigating Unit and the State Security Agency,” Ramaphosa said.

Meanwhile, Gauteng health MEC Bandile Masuku said reports that he was involved in his department’s procurement processes were false and without foundation.

“I value my reputation, that of the department and the Gauteng provincial government, and as such I am obliged to set the record straight. Following the emergency procurement processes undertaken since the declaration of the national state of disaster by the president in mid-March 2020, I requested that the administration of the department must observe good governance principles in the procurement process,” Masuku said in a statement.

“As a member of the executive council, I am not involved in nor do I influence the department’s procurement processes. The processes of awarding contracts within the department rests entirely with the supply chain management function in finance,” Masuku said.

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