South Africans protest

8 August 2020
South African President Cyril Ramaphosa has set up a ministerial committee to investigate alleged corruption in state tenders in the fight against the coronavirus. The committee will look into corruption in the procurement of goods and services sourced for the purpose of containing and responding to the COVID-19 pandemic and supply of food aid parcels to the poor.

South Africa’s anti-corruption body said on Monday it was investigating irregularities in these contracts.

When the first infections were recorded back in March, the government declared a state of disaster. The normal tender procedure for government contracts was abandoned to expedite provision of service. Contractors took advantage of the situation and inflated the prices of personal protective equipment (PPE). In some instances, goods were not even delivered. In some other cases contracts were given to companies and people connected to the government and the governing African National Congress Party (ANC). The Special Investigating Unit said 102 companies in the province of Gauteng alone are under investigation.

Ramaphosa’s chief spokeswoman, Khusela Diko, is also embroiled in a scandal involving her husband Thandisizwe. His company has been accused of winning a $7m contract to supply PPE through his political connections. The Gauteng provincial minister of health, Bandile Masuku, and his wife have also been put on special leave over COVID-19 related tender corruption allegations.

In South Africa at least 9,604 people have died, while 387,000 have recovered as of Friday. More than 24,000 health workers have contracted the disease and 181 have died since March.