'We were caught napping': deputy president on Covid-19 corruption

Andisiwe Makinana Political correspondent
Deputy President David Mabuza says SA's moral fibre has been compromised in pursuit of self-enrichment.
Deputy President David Mabuza says SA's moral fibre has been compromised in pursuit of self-enrichment.
Image: David Mabuza via Twitter

Deputy President David Mabuza says the government was caught napping regarding Covid-19 corruption, saying that some of its procurement systems left much to be desired.

“I must agree that as government I'm sure we were caught napping, some of our procurement systems leave much to be desired and that is why the president has called upon all of us to try to revamp our procurement system.

“As we are speaking, we are dealing with a procurement system and trying to close all the loopholes,” he added.

Mabuza, who was answering MPs' questions in the National Assembly, expressed “deep concern” about the widespread allegations of corruption related to procurement of personal protective equipment and other social-assistance interventions.

“The corrupt activities revealed through the work of our law-enforcement agencies highlight the extent to which our moral fibre has been compromised in pursuit of self- enrichment at the expense of our people.

“Such activities do not only undermine people's trust in government but also undermine our efforts in attracting investment that we so need so that we can grow this economy,” said Mabuza.

He said checks and balances to help detect corruption as early as possible were needed.

Mabuza, who is the leader of government's moral regeneration movement, said the country's moral and societal values were highly tested during the pandemic.

“We must all agree that more needs to be done to solidify the ethical foundation of our society to ensure that public resources are used in a responsible manner to benefit our people.

“Equally, government will continue to enhance systems of internal control to ensure openness, transparency and accountability to protect the integrity of our procurement system and where breaches have been committed, those who are involved must be held accountable,” he said.

Corruption appeared to be the theme for most of the questions, as MPs charged that it was a bigger crisis than the coronavirus, accusing the government of not acting on corruption, and when it did act, protected those who are close to power.

Mabuza said the moral regeneration movement remained a critical platform to galvanise society to advance the promotion of positive values and ethical conduct.

“These positive values and ethical conduct empower us to confront deep-seated challenges of moral decay within our communities, including in our public service,” he said.

Mabuza repeatedly called on South Africans to give law-enforcement agencies space to conclude investigations of the alleged impropriety in the awarding of PPE tenders.

He said the government was fully committed to the elimination of corruption in all its forms and manifestations and cited the establishment of the Fusion Centre, a multidisciplinary team of law-enforcement agencies investigating Covid-19 corruption in particular as evidence of that commitment.

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