Limpopo Premier Stanley Mathabatha believes the province’s personal protective equipment (PPE) procurement processes have been fair and transparent.
However, where there are doubts, he has faith that the Special Investigating Unit (SIU) will take action.
“They will definitely leave no stone unturned in unearthing any form malfeasance so that we take the necessary corrective action,” he said.
Mathabatha was speaking during a media briefing following the Provincial Command Council meeting on Wednesday.
Limpopo is one of the provinces that has been embroiled in the PPE scandal following allegations of handpicking companies, believed to be linked to politicians, to award tenders.
“I must mention that from the first day we have endeavoured to ensure that all procurement is done in an open, competitive and cost-effective manner,” he said.
The Premier said they are taking the allegation seriously and has invited the SIU, which is mandated to investigate irregularities and corruption in the procurement of COVID-19 supplies throughout the country.
“When the President proclaimed these investigations, we did not hesitate to consent to the proclamation and we are happy that the process has since begun,” he said.
The agency is to investigate Coronavirus-related procurement in the Departments of Health, Education and Cooperative Governance, Human Settlement and Traditional affairs.
He said the provincial departments awarded COVID-19 procurements to the value of R728.4 million for the period March 2020 to June 2020.
The Department of Health was awarded the lion’s share of the budget, receiving R548 million (80.28%) followed by the Department of Education which obtained R129.4 million (17.76%) while the rest of the departments and public entities pocketed R14. 2million (1.96%).
“A full table of what has been supplied and by who has been made available to the National Executive, Treasury and all other relevant structures for consolidation and review,” he said.
The investigation will also cover the Talana transitional residential units in Tzaneen, which cost R2.4 million for 40 shacks.
According to the Premier, various strategies were implemented in the various stages of the pandemic.
“This being a novel situation, it found us not ready and no one could claim to know what the future would be.”
Mathabatha told the media that most of the businesses that benefitted were local, and some were owned by the youth and women.
“Whilst there are instances where some of the items were sourced outside the province, these were unavoidable as there were no local suppliers for those specifications. The province had to ensure availability of PPEs at all costs,” he added.
Level 2 restrictions
Meanwhile, the provincial government has welcomed the move to alert level 2, which includes the easing of numerous restrictions.
“This pronouncement has been welcomed as the early spring rains for the millions of businessmen and women of Limpopo,” said the Premier. However, he cautioned against the “excitement” brought by the relaxation of restrictions.
“The scientists still believe the worst is not yet over, only if our people behave, then we can say the spread of COVID-19 is abated.”
Out of the 6 million people in Limpopo, the province currently has 11 738 infections with a recovery of 10 281 cases and a death toll of 165.
The number of infected healthcare workers currently stands at 831 both public and private sector of which 733 fully recovered and back at work.
“There’s been only three deaths of health workers who were doctors who are in the private sector. We really mourn this loss of such a scarce skill and, once more, send our condolences to the bereaved families,” he added.