President Cyril Ramaphosa has announced special measures to fight corruption during the COVID-19 pandemic.
Addressing the nation on Thursday evening, Ramaphosa said he is concerned about COVID-19 funds being stolen or misused, and food parcels being diverted from needy households.
He said increasingly South Africans are hearing allegations about:
- Fraudulent UIF claims
- Overpricing of goods and services
- Violation of emergency procurement regulations
- Collusion between officials and service providers
- Abuse of food parcel distribution
- The creation of fake non-profit organisations to access relief funding.
“More so than at any other time, corruption puts lives at risk,” the president said.
He said from the outset of the government’s response to the pandemic, they have been clear that there should be no scope for corruption.
To fight this corruption, the government has put in place several preventative measures.
- Special audits by the Auditor-General have been undertaken to detect and prevent misuse of these funds and to identify risks in the system.
- The establishment of a centre to strengthen the collective efforts among law enforcement agencies to prevent, detect, investigate and prosecute COVID-related corruption.
- The Special Investigating Unit (SIU) has been authorized to investigate any unlawful or improper conduct in the procurement of any goods, works and services during or related to the national state of disaster in any state institution.
- The SIU is empowered to institute civil proceedings for the recovery of any damages or losses incurred by the state.
Ramaphosa said to ensure that action is taken speedily, he will be getting interim reports on investigations every 6 weeks.
“We are determined that there should be no theft, no wastage and no mismanagement of public funds,” he said.
“The consequences for those who break the law or bypass regulations will be severe.”