Cyril Ramaphosa

President Cyril Ramaphosa on Thursday appointed a committee to probe allegations of corruption associated with the country’s response to the COVID-19 pandemic.

The committee, chaired by Minister of Justice and Correctional Services, Ronald Lamola, will look into corruption in the procurement of goods and services sourced for the purpose of containing and responding to the COVID-19 pandemic, the Presidency said in a statement.

To assist the committee in its assessment of COVID-19-related procurement, Ramaphosa has requested all ministers 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, presidential spokesperson Tyrone Seale said.

The president has directed that these lists must be provided to the committee as a matter of urgency this week, Seale said, adding that the committee will prepare a comprehensive report which the president intends to release as public information.

The president warned that the consequences for those who broke the law, whether they are in the public or private sectors, would be severely punished, said Seale.

Ramaphosa took the move following a cabinet meeting on Wednesday, at which the cabinet made a decision that reinforces the determination of the president that there should be no theft, no wastage and no mismanagement of public funds as the country fights COVID-19, Seale said.

The people of South Africa require nothing less than full accountability from those who have been elected and appointed to serve them, Seale quoted Ramaphosa as saying.

The cabinet decision will support other measures to detect corrupt activities, including the proclamation signed on July 23, authorizing the Special Investigating Unit 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, according to Seale.

There are allegations of politicians and their families involved in COVID-19 personal protective equipment (PPE) tender allegations and also stories of connected individuals that were illegitimately awarded contracts with state-owned enterprises.

The corruption scandals allegedly involve a number of individuals related with the African National Congress (ANC), including former presidential spokesperson Khusela Diko, Gauteng provincial health official Bandile Masuku and ANC Secretary-General Ace Magashule’s two sons, Tshepiso and Thato.

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