FRIDAY 16 OCTOBER 2020:
DURBAN, KWAZULU-NATAL BRIEFING BY:
HON. VELENKOSINI HLABISA, MPL
IFP PRESIDENT AND LEADER OF THE OFFICIAL OPPOSITION
IN THE KWAZULU-NATAL LEGISLATURE
CORRUPTION RAGES ON UNABATED IN KWAZULU NATAL
About three weeks ago, the IFP uncovered and raised issues pertaining to PPE corruption in procurement by the Departments of Education, Health, Transport and Social Developments, in KwaZulu-Natal government.
The IFP has brought these matters to the attention of the Special Investigating Unit (SIU) and also the Competition Commission of South Africa.
The SIU and Competition Commission of South Africa have acknowledged the receipt of the IFP submissions and we will be awaiting developments as they unfold.
When we assumed office in May 2019, as the official opposition in the province of KwaZulu-Natal, we committed the party to effectively representing the people of this province in the Legislature, by ensuring maximum accountability from the provincial government on the province’s finances and in local and community development.
Hence, we wish to report to the people of our province that a lot of wrongdoing has been committed during the Covid-19 procurement processes in this province, and a much wrongdoing has simply gone unattended in the finances of the province in the current dispensation, and the recent past.
We will mention some of these items today as highlights.
1. The IFP has reported that prices relating to PPE procurement were highly inflated in some Departments in KwaZulu-Natal. Notably, the purchase of 25 litre sanitisers, which were procured at R4 370, instead of R950 per unit by the Department of Education. We have since established that the same 25 litre sanitiser was purchased by the Department of Agriculture in KwaZulu-Natal at a unit price of R11 687.22 each, from a company called Tenere Group, whose business address is Westway Office Park in Westville, Durban.
Yet this same Department was able to buy the very same 25 litre sanitiser at another stage from another company called MX Distributors, at a unit price of R1 250 each.
Questions remain as to why the Department spent R11 687.22 per 25 litre sanitiser when it was able to purchase the same product – and the same quantity – from another company at a lesser price of R1 250 per unit.
We have referred this to the SIU and Competition Commission of South Africa.
2. The rot of corruption runs deep in KwaZulu-Natal. There is a company called Promed Technologies and another company called Sebenzani Trading 622 CC. These two companies are located in the same premises in Verulam, and belong to the same (Govender) family.
From PPE procurement, Promed Technologies scored a total of R33 683 500 from the KZN government. Sebenzani Trading scored a total of R102 909 482 from KZN government. Combined, this amounts to an astonishing R136 592 982.
All this money went to the same family, using two different company names. Of interest is that Promed, which scored less, is clearly visible when you get to the site, and Sebenzani, which seems like a cover-up, and is not clearly visible when you get to the site, scored the highest. The question is why?
3. The Department of Sport and Recreation kick-started a project called Umzimkhulu Fitness Centre in 2017. For the Financial Year 2017/18, the Department pumped R889 500 into this project, through Umzimkhulu Local Municipality.
For the year 2018/19, the Department pumped R7 849 500 into the project. For the year 2019/20, the Department pumped R8 243 000 into the project. The total to date is R16 982 000 that has been pumped into the project by Sport and Recreation. When the Provincial portfolio committee on Sport and Recreation visited the project on oversight on 6 February 2020, there was nothing to be over-seen, the project was not there. Where is the money?
4. In May this year, the MEC for Education in the province released a report of an investigation into the procurement and distribution of sanitary pads by the KZN Department of Education in 2016. This report revealed a number of irregularities, negligence and wasteful expenditure in relation to this project. But the recommendation was that the Deputy Director General for the Institutional Development Support Branch, the Chief Director for Social Enrichment Programmes and the Chief Director for Special Needs Education be subjected to disciplinary action, and were all suspended. The PFMA in article 44 (2) says that “A delegation or instruction to an official in terms of subsection (1)(d) does not divest the accounting officer of the responsibility concerning the exercise of the delegated power or the performance of the assigned duty.” In respect of this clause, it is clear that if these three officials were found guilty of wrongdoing on a delegated authority, the accounting officer can also not be absolved from the wrongdoing that was committed. In the case of the Department of Education on this matter, the HOD, Dr Nzama, was not suspended and was not subjected to any disciplinary action. This is in contravention of the PFMA. We have seen the HOD for Health in Gauteng suffering this fate, and lately, the MEC for Health in that province.
5. During the Level 5 lockdown this year, the Department of Social Development in the province allocated R25 million for food parcels. Three Service Providers were hand-picked and each was allocated R6 250 million to distribute to the four provincial clusters as follows:
- Insikazi in Pietermaritzburg;
- Insikazi in Ethekwini;
- WWOSA in Ulundi;
- Healing Peps in Midlands.
Each cluster was supposed to distribute 5 000 food parcels per month from July, but only 1 025 food parcels were distributed in July and August. The Department had provided service providers with trucks, bakkies, forklifts and petrol cards. This shows that when they were hand-picked, these service providers did not have capacity to do this work. (It is a story similar to the Free State asbestos saga, of payments upfront). As the public, we are left with a number of questions, such as:
- Why were under-resourced service providers appointed?
- Who do the vehicles belong to? Do they belong to the government or to the service providers?
- What were these vehicles used for, since the food parcels were not delivered?
- How much money was spent on the petrol cards, and for what purpose?
- What control mechanisms were put in place to monitor the use of these vehicles and petrol cards?
Here, it is clear that there were contraventions of sections 38, 39, 40, 45 and 81 of the PFMA.
6. Monies that were injected by this provincial government into the Luwamba-Sivananda Project in Ntambanana some years ago have to this day, not been accounted for. A number of Departments were involved in this project in partnership with the Sivananda NGO. These included the Premier’s Office, the Department of Agriculture, the Department of Economic Development and the Department of Health. The project was supposed to have benefitted local destitute families in a number of ways, which has not happened. Instead, money has disappeared, materials purchased for the project, like tractors, have disappeared, cows bought for the project have disappeared, the health facility constructed is dysfunctional, and the whole project is incomplete, neglected and does not equal the value for money spent.
7. In 2018, the KZN government allocated a sum of R4 million to the funeral service of Inkosi Vela “Imisebe Yelanga” Shembe. As is usual, the immoral implementers in government helped themselves to some of this money. The IFP has pursued this matter in the Premier’s Portfolio Committee in the Provincial Legislature up until an internal investigation exposed damning corruption by the officials. We are awaiting answers and action to be taken on the culprits in this looting.
8. A month ago, the Chief Whip of the IFP in the KZN Legislature, Hon. MB Gwala, wrote to the Speaker about the allegations of corruption said to be going on in her Office. To this day, the IFP has not received a response from the Office of the Speaker in this regard. As a result, the matter has now been escalated to the SIU, so that the matter can be put to rest satisfactorily.
9. ZANDILE GUMEDE MATTER
With regard to Zandile Gumede, the IFP has finalised the papers for filing an application in the High Court with the intention to set aside the swearing in of Zandile Gumede as a Member of the Provincial Legislature. We have said this in the media before, and I reiterate: if the ANC wants to be taken seriously as a party standing against corruption, they must be bold and decisive and ask Zandile Gumede to do the honourable thing and to resign, and if she refuses, show her the door as an MPL.
10. RESPONSE ON THE ECONOMIC RECONSTRUCTION AND RECOVERY PLAN AND THE IMPACT IT WILL HAVE IN KZN
We need a total overhaul and a change in trajectory before we are totally derailed economically as a country. The President announced grand plans with even grander financial impact. However, the question remains, how are we going to pay for these plans and how – if we are to borrow more money – are we going to service the debt.
We do, however, commend the President for the noble effort in reminding us that we are in this together and that our economy is dependent on each and every action of each South African.
The President has not said as much as we had expected on how exactly he intends this reconstruction and economic recovery plan to address the majority of our challenges in the economy. We have heard the same song of job creation, re-industrialisation and the likes, and we certainly do not expect this plan, which was tabled today, to be the silver bullet to our problems.
The real problems of our country are not the lack of plans. We have brilliant systems and checks in place – but these systems have been compromised by the corrupt, the rotten and the greedy.
Corruption has robbed millions of South Africans of the opportunity to rise above their dire circumstances.
The IFP will always remain committed to a functional response and our Deputy President and Spokesperson on Finance, Inkosi Mzamo Buthelezi, MP, will officially provide the Party’s response on 21 October.
I reiterate that we are committed to taking the country forward.
What must be said is that South Africans are tired of hearing the same old songs being sung in a unison choir by the ANC but not their alliance partners. South Africa needs actions now, and real action.
It is certainly useless for us to continue coming to listen to more hopes, ideals and plans, which never materialise. The proof is in the pudding. We reject grandstanding by the President and others just in order for us to keep moving – but at the end of the day, people can’t eat the plans if they do not affect their pocket and their livelihoods.
The President’s words will remain empty if not met with action.
11. CONDOLENCES: UNDERBERG
On behalf of the Inkatha Freedom Party, I wish to express our heartfelt condolences to the families and their relatives on the tragic news of the passing on of their loved ones in yet another minibus taxi-related incident at Underberg.
Recently we experienced nationwide taxi protests across the country, following the lockdown regulations. Much happened here as regards a consensus, which was reached by the industry, the Department and all other stakeholders. Similarly, taxi associations, like any other form of transportation, should commit fully to ensuring the safety of its people in transit and effectively getting our labour force to work in a manner that is safe and within the confines of the law. We cannot be paying condolences week on week to families and loved ones who are killed on our roads due to either recklessness or the poor state of road infrastructure.
Members of the Media, the IFP can conclude with much conviction that in respect of PPE procurement in this province, a lot has gone wrong in KZN – more so than whatever meets the eye.
One source has documented the non-compliance to legislation in procurement of PPEs in KwaZulu-Natal to be at 78%, with a total of 34 unlicensed companies awarded work amounting to around R144 million.
The IFP in the Legislature will keep on pushing for consequence management to be exercised on these misnomers, so that all of those who have looted money from the government can be prosecuted and so that the looted money can be returned to the coffers of the state.
I conclude that corruption does more than fill the pockets of the rotten few who benefit from their illegal and heinous acts of stealing.
It weakens our values and limits our choices, as we then discard our belief in honesty and trust as principles of those who are elected to serve the people.
These good South African values are kicked to the wayside, and it further breaks down our family values, our ability to exercise restraint and to stop and check ourselves before we commit crimes against the state. Society becomes one that steals, rapes and murders if we do not address the rot within the system.